Glaucoma Treatment May Stabilise Vision

Photo: Face of a woman

A routine exam can help identify
risk for glaucoma and early signs
of the disease; ©

"The goal of this procedure is to prevent further damage within the eye," says ophthalmologist Rajesh Shetty, Medical Doctor. According to him, some patients have been able to reduce or eliminate use of daily eye drop medications that regulate intraocular pressure.

Glaucoma is a disease that causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve from increasing pressure within the eye. This occurs because the eye produces a clear fluid that does not drain adequately and raises the eye pressure. The first sign of glaucoma is a loss of peripheral vision that is usually not noticed by the patient until it affects the central vision. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored so treatment aims to reduce eye pressure to prevent further damage.

Traditionally, ophthalmologists first prescribe eye drops to reduce the eye pressure, and if that does not work, they can perform a laser procedure (trabeculoplasty) to the existing internal drainage canal around the base of the cornea. A more invasive treatment is trabeculectomy, a surgical technique to create a new drain for the eye.

The Trabectome procedure uses a small probe that opens the eye's drainage system through a tiny incision in the eye's cornea. "It removes a small portion of the eye's natural drainage system so that it functions better," explains Shetty. He says it should be used when eye drops and laser trabeculoplasty fail to reduce pressure and before trabeculectomy is considered.

The procedure requires very little sedation and patients generally recover within a week. "We have been pleased with the results," Shetty adds, noting that although lost vision cannot be restored with the procedure, some patients have reported improved vision overall after surgery. Besides the dozen patients in his hospital, several thousands have received the procedure US-wide, Shetty states.; Source: Mayo Clinic