Through extensive clinical research and trials, doctors and researchers are constantly creating new and exciting treatment methods for glaucoma patients. These innovative procedures combine the newest technology, enhanced surgical methods and breakthrough drugs to normalize intraocular pressure and manage your glaucoma. Talk to your doctor to see if one of these innovative procedures will help preserve your vision.
If you have open angle glaucoma that is not adequately controlled, you may be a good candidate for trabectome surgery. The trabectome is a probe-like device that is inserted into the anterior chamber of the eye to open the eye’s drainage system. The probe delivers thermal energy to the trabecular meshwork of the eye, removing the covering of the drain that limits fluid flow and allowing the aqueous humor to flow more freely, lowering intraocular pressure. The surgery can be performed as a single surgery without cataract removal, but most often it is combined with cataract surgery.
What Happens During Trabectome?
Your doctor will use numbing drops or a combination of injected anesthetic and IV sedation for comfort. The surgery is minimally invasive and requires a tiny incision to position a small probe. The probe delivers thermal energy to the trabecular meshwork of the eye. This allows the aqueous humor to flow more freely and lowers the intraocular pressure (IOP). The entire procedure takes between 5 to 10 minutes.
What to Expect
Your doctor will go over your current medications and advise you accordingly. You will go home the same day of the surgery, but you must have a caregiver drive you home. You may be given antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications, and you should avoid strenuous activities for at least one week. Some patients experience clearer vision the following day, but other patients may require several days to improve. While you wait for your vision to sharpen, you may need to refrain from driving or operating equipment.
Outcomes of Trabectome
Studies show that trabectome usually lowers eye pressure by about 20-30 percent and reduces the number of glaucoma eye drops that are required. Trabectome surgery does not affect any future traditional glaucoma surgeries that may become necessary.
Usually, you will stop glaucoma drops immediately after the surgery and gradually add the drops in later months, if necessary.
Kahook Dual Blade
The Kahook Dual Blade (KDB) is a new minimally invasive option for treating glaucoma. It can be a good option for anyone with open-angle glaucoma, including patients whose intraocular pressure (IOP) is not affected by medication or those who have medication allergies or intolerances. This procedure is very similar to the trabectome, only it uses a disposable blade instead of an electrocautery and does not require the purchase of a special cautery machine. The procedure can also be combined with cataract surgery, without noticeably affecting recovery.
What Happens During a KDP Surgery?
The KDP performs a goniotomy, a procedure that does not damage the scleral wall or leave shunts or other foreign bodies in the eye. Parallel incisions are made through the trabecular meshwork, removing a section of the tissue and allowing increased aqueous flow, thereby lowering IOP.
What to Expect
Gonitomy is an outpatient procedure and you will go home the same day, but you must have a caregiver drive you home. You will be given antibiotics and topical steroids to take for a few weeks.
Outcomes of KDP
KDP has thusfar been proven to be a safe and effective method for lowering intraocular pressure and reducing need for glaucoma medication, especially for those with a cataract.
Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery with Cataract Surgery
New developments in Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) allow patients to have glaucoma and cataract surgery during one procedure, and most patients with a cataract and open-angle glaucoma are good candidates. Most MIGS procedures avoid eye tissues that are often utilized by traditional surgeries, allowing for future treatment options.
What Happens During MIGS?
The cataract removal and microstent procedure are usually performed under local anesthesia and only take about 15 to 20 minutes per eye. Your surgeon will first perform the phacoemulsification operation to remove the cataract. Using an ultrasonic device, the cloudy lens is broken up and removed and an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted. Using the same incision, the titanium microstent will be inserted by a preloaded, single-use, sterile applicator. Your doctor will slowly advance the stent into the trabecular meshwork of your eye and push the button on the inserter to release the device.
This specially designed stent can reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) in adult patients who are currently taking IOP medication for mild or moderate open-angle glaucoma and who have a cataract. The insertion of the stent only adds a few minutes to the surgery and is done when the cataract surgery is complete. Adding no significant risk to the procedure, the microstent can help greatly in the control of IOP and can reduce the number of medications that you are taking.
What to Expect
Bring a list of your current medications and a brief medical history to your pre-operative appointment, as your surgeon may recommend that you stop taking certain medications about a week before the surgery. You can go home the same day with an eye shield which can be removed the next day. Depending on the patient, and if both eyes require treatment, it is common for the second eye surgery to be scheduled for 2-3 weeks later. You will receive antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eye drops to use for the next several weeks after surgery. Recovery time is brief, but your doctor will recommend that you avoid strenuous activities for one week like sports, lifting heavy objects or straining as this will increase your IOP.
Outcomes of MIGS
Micro-invasive glaucoma surgery with cataract surgery is safe and effective in treating primary open-angle glaucoma and a cataract. The microstent procedure does not noticeably increase the risk of the cataract procedure, and some patients have been able to discontinue glaucoma drops after surgery. If you have a cataract and primary open-angle glaucoma, talk to your doctor about MIGS and cataract surgery.
Canaloplasty is a non-penetrating procedure primarily for open-angle glaucoma. It is designed to restore the eye’s natural drainage system and provide sustained reduction to intraocular pressure. Canaloplasty is less invasive than other traditional surgical procedures because it works just on the surface to enlarge the eye’s natural drainage to restore natural flow out of the eye. Canaloplasty is potentially a good fit for patients who have a higher risk of infection or bleeding, or patients who are at higher risk of complications with trabeculectomy [link to Glaucoma Treatment Methods]. Another similar surgery called the OMNI procedure attempts to restore the eye’s natural drainage in the same manner but from an internal approach to the drain as opposed to the external approach of a canaloplasty.
What Happens During Canaloplasty?
Your surgeon will first numb your eye and make a small incision to place a microcatheter into your eye’s drainage canal. Using the microcatheter, your doctor will enlarge the drainage canals to help the aqueous humor to drain more effectively. Your doctor will remove the microcatheter and use sutures to keep the drainage canals open.
The entire procedure takes between 30-45 minutes, depending on the patient.
What to Expect
Your surgeon may ask you to stop taking certain medications before surgery and will advise you when you may safely resume taking them again. Canaloplasty is an outpatient procedure but you will need a caregiver to drive you home. You will be given drops to reduce inflammation and prevent pain and infection. You may feel a scratchy sensation in your upper eyelid for up to a few weeks from the sutures that eventually dissolve.
Outcomes of Canaloplasty
Canaloplasty does not cure glaucoma but it slows the progression of the disease. Visual recovery is often faster when compared to other traditional glaucoma surgery procedures, and because it is minimally invasive, there is lower risk of complications and scarring.
Endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP) is a laser procedure commonly performed during or after cataract surgery. For patients needing treatment for cataracts and glaucoma, ECP can reduce or eliminate the need for glaucoma medications.
What Happens During ECP Surgery?
During cataract surgery, a very small incision is made and an ultrasonic probe is inserted to break up and gently remove the cataract from the affected eye. An intraocular lens is then inserted to provide the best corrected vision to the patient. Once the cataract is removed, the ECP probe is inserted into the same small incision. ECP uses tiny optical fibers to view and treat the ciliary body of the eye with laser energy. This reduces fluid production and lowers intraocular pressure.
What to Expect
ECP does not greatly affect recovery from standard cataract surgery. The outpatient procedure does require a caregiver to drive you home, and during recovery you should avoid any significant physical activity, lifting, or straining. You may be prescribed topical anti-inflammatory and antibiotics, as well as glaucoma medication.
Outcomes of ECP Surgery
ECP can be an effective part of a treatment plans for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma and cataracts with minimal risks and downtime. For some patients, ECP can eliminate the need for glaucoma medications.
Talk to your doctor to see if one of these innovative procedures will help preserve your vision. Breakthrough technology, along with traditional methods, can help keep your vision clear and prevent your glaucoma from advancing. Contact one of our treatment centers to make an appointment, or click here to locate a treatment center near you.