Whether you have just been diagnosed with open-angle glaucoma or have been battling it for years, you know how important it is to keep it under control to prevent further damage to your eyes. Whether you are currently on a treatment plan working for you, or you and your doctor have not yet gotten your glaucoma under control, you likely want to know about any new glaucoma treatments that you may be a candidate for now or in the future. One new promising glaucoma treatment is an eye stent procedure. Read on for more information about this treatment and whether you may be a good candidate for it now or in the future.
Traditional Glaucoma Treatments
As you likely know, the key to keeping your glaucoma under control and keeping your vision from declining is managing the pressure in your eyes. Keeping your blood pressure stable and not too low is currently the only way you can help manage it with your lifestyle. There are few other ways to control your glaucoma on your own, as there are no simple lifestyle changes that can lower pressure in your eyes.
Early glaucoma management often consists of eye drops that you may be using already, but if the eye drops stop working well or if the eye drops produce side effects that you just cannot live with, then that is usually a sign that glaucoma surgery is needed. Classic surgery options for glaucoma include laser surgeries that produce small channels, or holes, in your eyes that give excess eye fluid a place to drain. This decreases pressure in your eyes.
Unfortunately, for many people, these surgeries work well at first, and then they slowly stop working. The failure rate for a specific type of laser glaucoma surgery called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty is over 75-percent after four years in patients with advanced glaucoma.
There are many reasons glaucoma surgeries fail, but the failure rate means that new procedures are always being looked for that can lead to higher long-term success rates.
How the New iStent Works
One of the newer glaucoma surgery procedures is called the iStent. This surgery performs a similar goal to traditional glaucoma surgeries, which is giving excess eye fluid a place to drain. However, it does this in a different way. With an iStent procedure, instead of just making a small channel in the eye that can close over time, a tiny stent is placed in the eye to create the channel. Similar to stents used to keep arteries open after heart surgeries, the stent keeps the channel open for fluid to drain through, and you then don't have to worry about the channel closing over time and leading to eye pressure then increasing.
While the thought of having a stent in your eye may sound like it would set you up for discomfort, the stent is about the width of a strand of hair and just a few millimeters long. This small size means you won't feel it in your eye at all after a successful surgery.
Are You a Good Candidate?
As when managing any serious health problem, the final decision as to whether an iStent is right for you or not relies on your doctor's advice. Ask your eye doctor if he or she performs this surgery and whether you are a good candidate. Generally, the iStent is considered a good option for most people with open-angle glaucoma, as it requires only a minimally invasive surgery for placement and can keep vision from becoming worse over time, which occurs with uncontrolled glaucoma.
Many doctors even think it is a good option for people in the very first stages of glaucoma as an alternative to prescription eye drops that can only do so much to manage eye pressure. If your doctor doesn't provide this surgery, then ask for a referral to one who does, so you can discuss this option further with someone who has more experience with it.
If you have glaucoma, then you need to do everything you can to keep the pressure in your eyes controlled to decrease the chances of further vision loss. There are many options to control this pressure, including the newer iStent, so speak with your eye doctor about whether you are really doing everything that is needed to preserve your vision.