We have been recommending the iStent at the time of cataract surgery over the last few years for our patients who have both cataracts and glaucoma. The purpose of the iStent is to increase the flow of fluid out of the eye in order to decrease eye pressure. Glaucoma is a condition where the fluid in the eye is either coming in too fast or leaving too slowly. The buildup of pressure can cause permanent vision loss so is generally treated with eye drops.
The iStent is a tiny device, in fact it is the smallest implantable device in medicine measuring only 230 microns by 360 microns. As you may remember, there are only 1000 microns in a millimeter so that means it is only around ¼ by 1/3 of a millimeter. After the cataract is removed and the lens inserted, we have the patient turn their head to one side and then place two of these iStents at the edge of the eye. You cannot see them without special mirrors.
When compared to cataract surgery alone, we know that the iStent does generally result in lower eye pressure. A new study just came out looked at if there was a difference in the number of glaucoma eye drops patients used after cataract surgery and found that those with the iStent had a reduction even if they were using 3 or more drops. In fact, the more the drops used the bigger the drop in the number required. This was reported in the medical journal Ophthalmology in January. The data came from a managed care network and involved almost 3000 patients.
Dr. Martha Jay is an Eye Physician & Surgeon practicing at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin. She specializes in small incision cataract surgery and blade-free LASIK.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.