In an age when time is often more precious than money, efficiency is one of our society’s most valued traits. We value electronic devices that make our jobs easier. We value cars that have high gas mileage. We value consultants who specialize in problem-solving. When it comes to eye surgery, efficiency is also a goal. For the past three years, eye surgeons have been performing a new type of glaucoma surgery in conjunction with cataract surgery. The results have been positive, and patients have been pleased with the fact that two eye conditions can be treated in one day.
Cataracts and glaucoma are both degenerative eye diseases that are associated with age. Over 24 million Americans over the age of 40 (1 in every 6) suffer from cataracts, making it the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 4 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of glaucoma sufferers are aware that they have the disease. Although cataracts and glaucoma are not related, it is not uncommon to develop both conditions in the aging process.
One of the biggest differences in the two conditions is how they are treated. Cataracts are curable, and vision can be restored by simply removing the cataract and replacing the deteriorated lens with an artificial lens known as an IOL. Conversely, glaucoma has no cure and has traditionally been controlled with eye drops because surgeries were associated with complications and longer healing times.
In 2012, the FDA approved the iStent, a device that treats open-angle glaucoma to open blocked trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drain), increase the flow of aqueous humor out of the eye, and decrease eye pressure. A 2012 trial of 240 eyes with cataracts and mild-to-moderate glaucoma showed that that the iStent did not compromise cataract procedures, and it allowed 68 percent of patients to stop one or more glaucoma drops.
One efficient, safe surgery can cure the most common cause of blindness as well as treat another common cause of blindness. Research will continue as new methods are improved upon, with the hopes that blindness can be eliminated one case at a time (Source: Miami Herald).
To learn more about cataracts and glaucoma and their associated treatments, please read more within Your Sight Matters. Talk to your eye doctor about a treatment plan that will preserve your vision, and stay current with comprehensive eye exams. Nothing is more important than your eyesight, so treat it with care.