For those with both glaucoma and cataracts, we began using a new surgical option to tackle both at the time of cataract surgery in 2017 with an iStent. This tiny device (1 mm by 0.3 mm) controls eye pressure by increasing the outflow of fluid from the front of the eye. The eye is like a small plumbing system: fluid is constantly entering the eye from behind the pupil and leaving it through a sponge-like meshwork at the edges of the eye in front of the colored iris. The iStent bypasses this meshwork, allowing the fluid to leave more quickly to decrease eye pressure.
The iStent is part of a new type of glaucoma care called Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery or MIGS. In the past glaucoma was mainly managed with eye drops, lasers or extensive surgery. This new option is less traumatic to the eye than traditional glaucoma surgery but does need to be done at the time of cataract surgery. Once the cataract procedure is completed and the lens implant in place, we then turn the patient’s head to one side and insert the iStent. You cannot see or feel the stent.
What already was a great device recently got even better. The new iStent inject is easier to place and works even better than the original version. A recent study showed a 37% decrease in eye pressure and a 68% reduction in the need for glaucoma eye drops compared to the original model.
Regardless of the treatment for glaucoma, close follow-up is important to be sure this condition is well controlled. That generally means seeing you about twice yearly: One appointment with dilating drops to look in the back of the eye and another with the side vision testing along with a scan of the back of the eye. See you soon!
Dr. Martha Jay is a board certified ophthalmologist (Eye Physician & Surgeon) specializing in small incision cataract surgery, glaucoma care and blade free LASIK. For more eye care information, visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com or call 262-241-1919.