For leading Ophthalmologist and Medical Director of Athena Eye Institute Dr Ashvini Reddy, genetic testing plays a vital role in providing her patients with targeted treatment and individualized care. Advancements in the field of retinal genetics means more and more patients are able to find answers that can help them plan for their future.
Dr Reddy leads the team at Athena Eye Institute in San Antonio, Texas, specializing in eye conditions such as ocular inflammation, diabetic retinopathy, retinal dystrophy, and macular degeneration. Dr Reddy and her team use a holistic approach to patient care, with a commitment to personalized medicine and maintaining long-lasting patient relationships.
Genetic testing can provide answers
“Patients who have been struggling with posterior retinal disease are often in a really dark place. They are doing everything they can, they’ve seen multiple specialists, they are really trying to find answers for what is going on,” Dr Reddy tells us.
“It’s a privilege to help those patients, because you’ve really turned a life around when you can say that this is actually what’s causing the issue with your vision and this is what we can offer you at this point.”
In only a few years, genetic testing has become much more accessible.
“We can get patients a lot of the answers that they deserve. This helps them plan for their future, but oftentimes also their children’s future,” she says.
My Retina Tracker® Program – A game-changer
For her patients with inherited retinal disease, Dr Reddy sees great value in the My Retina Tracker® Program that provides open access genetic testing and genetic counseling for her patients.
“My Retina Tracker is really great. It makes a large panel of genes, testing for them, available to a single patient at really no cost. The fact that we don’t even have to draw blood anymore to do this is amazing.”
Dr Reddy notes the importance of the breadth of genes in a panel as well as the sensitivity and specificity of a test. The RPGR gene, for example, should be included in a retinal dystrophy panel as it plays a large role in retinitis pigmentosa.
Additionally, she sees the support available for patients as a huge benefit.
“If I need to get someone in touch with a genetic counselor, if we need to get them reading material, if we need to direct them to a website that has meaningful information to them, I really feel that everything I need is in one place.”
How clinical practice is evolving
“I definitely think that clinical practice is changing every year,” Dr Reddy comments and continues:
“I think that my patients themselves evolve. They are more educated now, because of the internet and the accessibility of information. It sets a great foundation for a therapeutic relationship. I think our technology is going to get better and better – both on the diagnostic end and therapeutic end.”
She says that 5 years ago it was very hard to get genetic testing for patients.
“I couldn’t get it for anybody, because it was either unaffordable, out of network, not covered, or unavailable for some patients. Now there is really no reason for why we can’t provide it. So, 5 years from now, I really feel like it’s going to be a felt presence in my type of practice. 15 years from now is anyone’s guess.”
She looks forward to having answers to the questions that patients have that we don’t yet have an answer for. “I’m really excited about the future of ophthalmology and the role that genetic testing will play.”
According to Reddy, from a research perspective, the technology has improved to the point that we should be offering genetic testing in more situations than we were before.
Watch the full video to learn more!
What is the My Retina Tracker Program? Learn more here.
Dr Ashvini Reddy
Dr Ashvini Reddy is an ophthalmologist and the medical director of Athena Eye Institute, with close to a decade of medical experience. She earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Lewis Scholar. She completed graduate studies at the same university and received her Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. While at Baylor, Dr Reddy completed a medical internship, residency, and postdoctoral research fellowship. She went on to complete an ophthalmology fellowship at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami in Florida. She is board-certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and has published a wide array of research in prestigious medical journals. She lectures and presents at professional conferences nationwide.