iStent: A Revolutionary Approach to Glaucoma

Cataract and glaucoma are common eye conditions which become increasingly common with as we age. Frequently, both these conditions are present simultaneously. The treatment of cataract and glaucoma has been evolving over the years and recent studies have shown that when surgery is indicated for cataract and glaucoma, better results can be achieved if the surgeries for cataract and glaucoma are performed simultaneously.

Until recently, the most common glaucoma surgery was a trabeculectomy. Although effective the procedure requires more intensive outpatient follow up and recovery time can be prolonged. This procedure remains a mainstay for patients who are not well controlled on glaucoma medications. However if you are using glaucoma medications successfully or have high pressure there is a new device that is now available.

The iStent is a revolutionary new method of controlling eye pressure. The stent is the smallest implantable device available in medicine. It is placed in the trabecular meshwork at the same time as cataract surgery. The device provides a direct microscopic pathway for fluid to escape the eye through the natural drainage area, known as Schlemm’s canal. The procedure only adds a couple minutes to traditional cataract surgery, and the stent cannot be seen or felt after surgery. It simply reduces pressure for a majority of patients who receive it. If a patient is on many drops it can decrease the number of drops significantly. In some cases, when the pressure is mildly elevated, the iStent can completely obviate the need for drops. If you have glaucoma and are planning to have cataract surgery the iStent can be a valuable addition to treating both types of eye disease with one procedure. The device is covered by most major insurances including Medicare. Dr. Colvard and Dr. Kandavel are two of the most experienced surgeons in California using this implantable stent. They were involved in the initial clinical trials and continue to be active participants in developing new technologies for minimally invasive eye surgery.