Glaucoma is a common condition which can cause blindness. It is a weakness in the optic nerve of the eye that causes it to malfunction under the pressure from the fluid in the eye.
The optic nerve joins the back of the eye to the brain and serves to transmit signals created by light to the visual cortex at the back of the brain enabling us to see.
When the fluid inside the eyeball has difficulty escaping through the channels of veins inside it the pressure rises, presses on the optic nerve and vision is affected.
Cataracts are even more common, and their removal is the most common surgical procedure performed. There is no other treatment for cataracts apart from surgery. This is very safe.
Normally, in people who have glaucoma, medications in the form of drops need to be used every day to try and lower the pressure inside the eye. These drops are a nuisance because they cause all sorts of local side effects like redness, swelling of the skin of the eyelids,
Thickening and darkening of the lashes (some think this is great) and dryness. In short, most people would rather not have to put drops in their eyes all the time.
It just so happens to be there is now a highly innovative microscopic device that can be easily implanted, by a skilled surgeon, into the eye at the same time as cataract surgery.
This is world’s smallest known medical implant can make a big difference to the pressure of the eye in the long term and allows eye surgeons to simultaneously take care of a patient’s cataract, as well as their glaucoma. They are almost no added risks to surgery when this is done. Most patients don’t need to use glaucoma drops again.
The iStent works like the stents used to prevent heart attacks and strokes. When vessels get clogged, a stent opens them up to increase the flow of the fluid.*
It creates a permanent pathway for fluid from inside the eye to flow out of it into the blood vessels that are present around it. It bypasses the site of blockage to fluid flow, reduces the pressure inside the eye, hence minimises the damage that the optic nerve sustains in glaucoma.
If you or a relative who has cataract also has glaucoma, you must discuss the options of tackling two problems at the same time with the eye surgeon. The iStent or similar device (there are about four variations on the theme) should be considered in eyes with glaucoma and cataract.
Glaucoma should be treated at the same time as cataract surgery takes place.