Corneal cross-linking, an investigational therapy, is a key break-through in treating the disorder and Dr. Hatch is one of the physicians able to perform the procedure. While not yet approved by the FDA in the United States, it is widely used in Europe and is now available through the CXL-USA clinical trial.
“Our participation in this study enables us to offer patients the only treatment that can effectively halts keratoconus progression,” Dr. Hatch explains. “And it may prevent the need for corneal transplantation.”
Treatment takes place at the Waltham clinic and entails saturating the cornea with the vitamin riboflavin and then applying UV light. When successful, it restores corneal rigidity, preventing further stretching and bulging.
One unique aspect of the current cross-linking study is its departure from the traditional, so-called Dresden protocol, in which the corneal epithelium is removed prior to treatment.
“Most reported complications from cross-linking were related to the ‘epi-off’ procedure,” Dr. Hatch adds. “While we have the option to perform ‘epi-off’, most investigators in the trial are performing ‘epi-on’. In addition to being effective, the ‘epi-on’ procedure allows for a shorter recovery, fewer complications, and the ability to return to contacts quickly.”
All patients evaluated for laser vision correction at Mass. Eye and Ear, Waltham undergo keratoconus screening for safety, she adds. “If our corneal topography imaging reveals mildly asymmetric corneas, then we don’t perform LASIK on that patient. Laser correction could make the problem worse, and my job is to find the safest, most effective treatment possible for each individual patient.”
This ability to give her patients access to the latest treatment modalities and advanced technology is why Dr. Hatch is delighted to be part of the team at Mass. Eye and Ear, Waltham. “I’m a clinician, and I like clinical research,” she says. “But ultimately, what interests me most is patient care. Mass. Eye and Ear’s focus on innovation – whether it’s an investigational protocol like collagen cross-linking or the most advanced laser cataract surgery approach – translates into excellent care.”
A graduate of Middlebury College, Dr. Hatch received her MD from the University of Vermont Medical School, then completed her Ophthalmology residency at New York University’s Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and completed a fellowship in Cornea and Refractive Surgery and External Disease at Mass. Eye and Ear.
The daughter of two teachers, Dr. Hatch says apart from patient care and research, her other love is teaching. She enjoys training HMS Department of Ophthalmology residents and Mass. Eye and Ear fellows.
Contact Dr. Hatch’s office at 781-890-1023.
View Dr. Hatch’s online bio for more information.