Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and is generally managed with eye drops. Now there is good news for those of you who are contemplating cataract surgery and also have glaucoma: The iStent. This tiny device can be placed in the eye at the time of cataract surgery to better control eye pressure. The eye is like a tiny plumbing system. There is a small amount of fluid constantly entering the eye from behind the pupil and then leaving it at the edges of the eye, in front of the colored iris. This fluid is called “aqueous humour” and it is completely replenished every one to two hours.
Eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. The eye drops either decrease how fast the fluid enters the eye or increase how quickly it leaves. Common eye drops that decrease the inflow are Timolol, Brimonidine and Dorzolamide. The most commonly prescribed eye drop that increases the outflow is Latanoprost. The iStent is a tiny tube (measuring only 1 mm by 0.3 mm) that is placed in front of the iris at the edge of the eye to allow the aqueous humour to leave faster. It is the smallest implantable device in medicine.
The iStent can only be placed at the time of cataract surgery so you need to have both cataracts and mild to moderate glaucoma. If your glaucoma is very severe, you might need more extensive surgery than the iStent provides. It is made of titanium and is not magnetic so won’t interfere with your ability to have a MRI later in life.
Sounds confusing? We can talk about this more at your next eye examination. The goal of the iStent is to get you off some or all of your glaucoma medications. In the meantime, keep taking your drops as we have prescribed them and continue to have regular follow-up examinations.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.LakeshoreVision.com.