By Barbara Sprunt
For The Daily Item
ALLENWOOD — Some of the cloudiness is lifting for glaucoma patients, thanks to a new device approved by the FDA last summer.
The iStent, a miniscule tool implanted during cataract surgery, is being offered at the Eye Center of Central Pennsylvania.
The iStent, which has the width of one of the numbers engraved on the date of a penny, is designed to treat those with mild to moderate glaucoma.
“Your eye functions like a sink,” Sheri Purdy, director of marketing and business development at the Eye Center, explained. “Imagine that you have a drain and a faucet adding water to the sink. Your eye works very similarly.
"In glaucoma, you have an increase of pressure in the eye. If we go back to the sink idea and there is an increase in pressure, the water would simply overflow and fall on the floor. Your eye is a closed unit so it has nowhere to go and that’s when the pressure starts to increase in your eye and when glaucoma is diagnosed.”
To treat glaucoma, you can either manipulate the “faucet” or the “drain.” One new way to do that is by implanting this new device, which works to improve the outflow of fluid from the eye in order to control eye pressure. It is approved for primary open-angle glaucoma in patients with mild to moderate cases of the disease. It is a surgical procedure performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, adding about one minute to surgery time.
The iStent presents several advantages over other glaucoma treatments, said Dr. Daniel Fassero, surgeon at the Eye Center.
Eye drops are usually the first step in treating glaucoma. “After drops, we utilize different types of lasers that can effectively treat glaucoma,” he said. “In the past, we’ve gone to more invasive surgical techniques to try to lower the intraocular pressure. The iStent allows us to very effectively treat glaucoma by reducing the pressure without [these] more invasive surgical techniques.”
Recovery following the implantation of the iStent is no different than regular cataract surgery. After the surgery, patients are prescribed an antibiotic drop to prevent infection and an anti-inflammatory drop to help patients heal from the overall surgery.
Best of all? Patients get immediate relief, and the iStent is covered by Medicare.
According to Dr. Fassero, the iStent “very often can remove the need of drops altogether for the long term.” This helps patients forgo the monthly expense associated with glaucoma eye drops.
Dr. Fassero said the iStent is another way the Eye Center tries to bring the newest technology available to its patients. “Here at the Eye Center, we are very proud of the fact that we use innovative technology to provide the most advanced care for patients,” he said. “The iStent is one of the great examples of ways to do this.”
Robert Lamont, President and CEO of the Eye Center, agrees. “Patients deserve to have the best technology,” he said. “These are our neighbors and they deserve that care. So why not bring it? We’re very excited that we’re able to bring that here to central PA, provide it to patients who need it and we look forward to bringing new technology to the area as it becomes available.”