Stent Reduces Eye Pressure for Glaucoma and Cataract Patients

Madison, Wisconsin - The smallest medical device ever approved is showing promise to relieve eye pressure for patients with both cataract and glaucoma.


Dr. Yao Liu and Dr. Julia Agapov of the UW Health ophthalmology and visual sciences department, are the first ophthalmologists in Madison to use the iStent® Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent, which is put into the eye during cataract surgery.


Relief for  People with Glaucoma


In clinical trials, the device reduced eye pressure in adult patients with mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma and who are being treated with glaucoma medicine. It is used in more than 40 academic centers across the country.


"This is great news for people who have a decline in vision from cataract and are using eye drops for glaucoma," says Dr. Liu. "The eye drops used to treat glaucoma can be difficult to administer and expensive. With this device, many patients need fewer medicines to control their eye pressure and some may not need prescription eye drops at all."


Sheldon Frank, 84, of Madison, was one of the first patients to have the surgery here in Madison. He was excited by the possibility that the device may reduce his dependence on glaucoma medication, which he has been using for about three years. He is looking forward to having another stent placed when he has cataract surgery in his other eye.


You Won't Know It's There


iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


"It is so small you are unable to see or feel it after the procedure is done," says Dr. Liu. "Although you won't know it is there, it can help reduce your eye pressure.


Implanting the device does not significantly extend the length of time the patient spends in surgery and it has a similar safety profile to cataract surgery alone.


The device was approved in June 2012, and Dr. Liu was trained to implant the device during her glaucoma fellowship at the University of California-Davis.


"Traditional glaucoma surgery is higher risk and higher reward," she explains."“This stent is lower risk, but with a lower reward. It is not used for people with advanced glaucoma because the pressure-lowering effects are not as significant as those of other glaucoma surgeries."


The goal is to reduce dependence on glaucoma medications. In addition, people who have the stent implanted still have all future options for glaucoma treatment available to them, Dr. Liu says.


Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of patients do not comply with their ocular medication-dosing regimens and nearly half discontinue taking their medications within six months of use. This is a serious problem because high pressure increases the risk of permanent vision loss.

Date Published: 05/23/2014

News tag(s):  eyes

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