Both cataracts and glaucoma can rob a person of their vision, and the conditions can occur concurrently. For patients with cataracts and glaucoma, combined cataract and glaucoma surgery is often enticing. During the procedure, your eye care provider addresses both conditions during the surgical procedure, and there are several benefits to the approach.
If you’re wondering whether combined cataract and glaucoma surgery is the best choice for you and want to know more about what to expect from the procedure, here’s what you need to know.
The Benefits of Combined Cataract and Glaucoma Surgery
Combining cataract and glaucoma surgery often significantly improves overall vision quality. The removal of the cloudy lens during cataract surgery, coupled with glaucoma management, enhances visual clarity and sharpness, which makes handling everyday tasks and work activities easier.
Additionally, a key advantage of opting for combined surgery is patients usually experience a streamlined recovery process. There’s one recovery period instead of two, reducing overall downtime dramatically when compared to having two separate surgeries.
Finally, combining cataract and glaucoma surgeries is typically more cost-effective than doing procedures separately. Patients often save on total facility fees and other expenses when performing both surgeries at the same time, allowing them to reduce the overall cost of treatment.
What to Expect from Combined Cataract and Glaucoma Surgery
If you’re considering combined cataract and glaucoma surgery, the first step is typically a comprehensive exam. That allows your eye care provider to evaluate the state of both conditions, confirm you’re a suitable candidate for the procedures, and develop an appropriate treatment plan prior to surgery.
Once the plan is in place, your eye care provider will discuss what occurs during the cataract removal and glaucoma treatment. For the latter, this usually involves explaining the chosen minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) selected or an overview of the available options if more than one MIGS is reasonable.
During the conversation, your eye care provider will also review the benefits and risks of the combined surgery. The goal is to ensure you’re well-informed, allowing you to decide your best choice is moving forward.
Once it’s time for your surgery, sedation and local anesthetic are administered to keep you relaxed and to numb the eye. That ensures your comfort during the surgery and can make general anesthesia unnecessary, which reduces overall risk.
After the surgery, you’ll need to follow the post-surgical recovery plan created and outlined by your provider to support optimal healing. This can include taking specific prescription medications, avoiding strenuous activity, and more, as well as attending scheduled follow-up appointments.
Are You a Candidate for Combined Cataract and Glaucoma Surgery?
If you’re interested in combined cataract and glaucoma surgery and want to find out if you’re a suitable candidate, you’ll need to start the process by making an appointment with your eye care provider. Then, they can determine if the procedure is a good treatment choice.
WNY Best Eye Surgeons
If you’re considering combined cataract and glaucoma surgery, our experienced team is here to provide guidance. Explore the possibilities and take a step towards clearer vision by scheduling an appointment at one of our four convenient ECVA clinic locations in the WNY region.
After a glaucoma diagnosis, finding a suitable treatment is crucial for preserving visual acuity. Glaucoma causes pressure to rise in the eye, and when that occurs, damage to the optic nerve can harm a person’s ability to see, potentially leading to permanent vision loss.
Fortunately, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), like iStent, has significant potential to assist glaucoma patients. However, the iStent isn’t the right choice for everyone. If you’re wondering whether you’re a candidate for iStent, here’s what you need to know.
What Is iStent?
iStent is an implantable medical device that reduces intraocular pressure (IOP) by improving fluid drainage in the eye. By decreasing fluid levels, IOP also declines. In turn, the chance of ongoing damage to the optic nerve is reduced, lessening a patient’s chances of more vision loss.
The iStent procedure won’t reverse any permanent vision loss that has already occurred. However, it can preserve a patient’s remaining vision, which is why it’s an attractive option for patients struggling to manage their IOP using alternative means like eye drops.
Best Candidates for iStent
Generally, the iStent is a potential treatment option for specific glaucoma patients. It’s best suited to treat mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma in patients who aren’t securing the necessary IOP reduction through the use of glaucoma eye drops. It’s also a viable treatment for pigmentary or pseudo-exfoliative glaucoma.
However, the iStent procedure is done in conjunction with cataract surgery. As a result, patients need a cataract diagnosis, and the condition needs to justify cataract surgery.
While those are the primary ways to determine if a patient is a candidate for iStent, other factors can influence whether it’s a viable treatment for their glaucoma. As a result, meeting the criteria above doesn’t guarantee candidate suitability.
How to Find Out If You’re a Candidate for iStent
If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma and aren’t getting the desired results from eye drops or other treatment options, iStent could be a solid choice for reducing the odds of further damage to your vision. However, the only way to find out if you’re a suitable candidate for iStent is to consult with your eye care provider.
When you meet with your eye care provider, they can evaluate a variety of factors to determine if iStent is a solid choice. Every patient is unique, so participating in a thorough exam is essential, as it allows your eye care provider to determine whether the iStent will provide the desired result with minimal risk.
Additionally, your eye care provider can review essential information about the procedure that allows you to make an informed decision. They can outline the benefits and risks, aftercare requirements, and other vital details, making it easier for you to determine if iStent is the right treatment for you if you’re a good candidate.
Glaucoma Treatment Options in Buffalo
If you have glaucoma and are interested in determining your eligibility for the iStent procedure, our team is here to help. Take the first step toward improved eye health by scheduling an appointment at your nearest ECVA clinic today.
Effective glaucoma treatment is critical for preserving a patient’s vision. Glaucoma is chronic and progressive, and without proper treatment, it robs patients of their vision. Globally, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness, but it is possible to slow its progression significantly.
One minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) that’s revolutionizing glaucoma treatment is the iStent. Here’s a look at the iStent, how it treats glaucoma, and how to determine if it’s right for you.
What Is the iStent?
The iStent is a tiny, implantable device designed to alleviate the intraocular pressure (IOP) caused by glaucoma. Shaped like a microscopic stent, it’s made of biocompatible material and is so small that it qualifies as the tiniest medical device currently in use. The primary purpose of the iStent is to facilitate the drainage of fluid from the eye, addressing the root cause of the IOP that can damage the optic nerve and rob glaucoma patients of their vision.
How Does the iStent Treat Glaucoma?
To understand how the iStent treats glaucoma, it’s critical to know how glaucoma impacts the eyes and a patient’s vision. Glaucoma is characterized by a rise in IOP due to poor drainage of the aqueous humor (the fluid that nourishes the eye).
When IOP increases, the pressure can damage the optic nerve. As the optic nerve is damaged, vision impairment occurs. Without treatment, vision loss expands, potentially leading to blindness.
The iStent treats glaucoma by creating a pathway for fluid. During a MIGS procedure, the iStent is positioned in the trabecular meshwork in a drainage channel in the eye. Once in place, the iStent allows the natural drainage system in the eye to work more effectively. In turn, IOP is reduced, and that prevents or reduces further optic nerve damage.
The iStent is positioned during cataract removal surgery, allowing for fewer total incisions. Only local anesthesia is required, and the procedure itself is painless.
Additionally, the iStent is considered a long-term solution for glaucoma patients. It also reduces the need for further treatments, allowing patients to rely less on eye drops to keep IOP at an appropriate level.
Is iStent Right for You?
Generally, the iStent is a viable treatment for patients with mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma currently using eye drops but who aren’t achieving the desired IOP reductions. Additionally, it’s only positioned in conjunction with cataract surgery.
However, whether you’re a good candidate for the iStent may depend on other factors. As a result, it’s critical to speak with your eye care provider about your glaucoma, the effectiveness of your current treatment, and whether the iStent is potentially the right choice.
At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you have glaucoma and want to determine whether you’re a good candidate for the iStent MIGS procedure or haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.
Glaucoma is a chronic and progressive eye condition that’s also the leading cause of blindness in the world. Damage occurs as intraocular pressure (IOP) builds, which harms the optic nerve, causing irreversible vision loss. Traditional glaucoma treatments usually involve topical medications or laser treatments, the latter of which are associated with challenges like complications, long recovery times, and significant follow-up requirements.
Fortunately, newer procedures are proving effective at addressing IOP in glaucoma patients, and they can involve less risk when compared to some traditional alternatives. Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) is a cutting-edge approach that’s proving highly effective, and it’s potentially safer than some other forms of treatment. Here’s what you need to know about MIGS.
What Is Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery?
MIGS is a group of glaucoma surgeries that use minimally invasive approaches to reduce IOP. Typically, they involve a small incision and subsequent procedures to improve fluid drainage, leading to far less intraocular pressure.
While MIGS can’t reverse any damage caused by glaucoma, the treatments can slow or prevent progression. The procedures typically decrease IOP substantially over periods of up to two years. Plus, they can reduce a patient’s need for glaucoma eye drops, making the condition easier to manage daily.
Types of MIGS
There are several MIGS procedures currently available. Here is a brief overview of them:
Ab-Interno Canaloplasty (ABiC): A MIGS procedure that uses a microscopic incision and the insertion of a catheter into the drainage canal to inject a viscoelastic substance that breaks down blockages and adhesions to improve fluid drainage
CyPASS: A MIGS procedure involving an implanted device that’s positioned in the suprachoroidal space to enhance fluid outflow
Gonio-Assisted Transluminal Trabeculotomy: A MIGS procedure similar to ABiC that’s particularly well-suited to younger patients with juvenile glaucoma
iStent: A MIGS procedure using a small implant that’s placed in the drainage angle to improve fluid outflow
Trabectome: A MIGS procedure for treating open-angle glaucoma that involves a small incision and a specialized tissue debris-removal tool to address fluid drainage blockages.
The Benefits of MIGS
MIGS procedures offer patients an array of benefits. Generally, MIGS is far safer than traditional glaucoma surgery, using smaller incisions and coming with a reduced risk of complications. Each of the MIGS procedures also minimally alters normal anatomy and instead focuses on augmenting physiological systems to improve outflow.
With a MIGS procedure, IOP is typically reduced significantly, though the exact amount can vary. In many cases, patients can reduce their use of eye drop medications after a MIGS procedure. Recovery is also far quicker when compared to many traditional surgical alternatives, resulting in less downtime for patients.
Is MIGS Right for You?
Generally, MIGS are potential treatments for patients with mild or moderate glaucoma who either aren’t getting positive results with topical medications or who don’t tolerate those treatments well. The use of the implants reduces the need for topical medications, making them a strong choice in situations where medications prove ineffective or lead to undesirable or hard-to-manage side effects.
However, only an eye care provider can determine if you’re a good candidate for MIGS. Additionally, there are several MIGS procedures available, and some may better suit your situation than others.
At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re considering MIGS as a treatment for glaucoma or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.
To put it simply, a glaucoma diagnosis is intimidating for many patients. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. While there’s no cure for glaucoma, there are treatment options designed to help preserve your vision, including Durysta.
Durysta is a newer treatment option for open-angle glaucoma (OAG) that also works for ocular hypertension (OHT). It’s a bimatoprost intracameral implant that’s FDA-approved, and Durysta works by releasing bimatoprost – a medication that combats high eye pressure – slowly over time.
When looking for a glaucoma treatment, Durysta offers several advantages over many alternatives, particularly eye drops. Here’s a look at what patients can gain by choosing the Durysta implant for glaucoma treatment.
Durysta Offers Better Effectiveness
While eye drops are an approved treatment for glaucoma, using that approach prevents all of the medication from reaching the impacted tissues. With glaucoma, intraocular pressure typically builds in the posterior or back of the eye, not the surface where eye drops are applied. As a result, not all of the medications reach the affected tissues.
One of the most distinct benefits patients experience when using the Durysta implant instead of eye drops is better efficacy. With Durysta, the implant is positioned to ensure medications are able to reach impacted tissues more reliably than eye drops. That makes it highly effective at reducing intraocular pressure and leads to better overall results.
Improved Stability with Durysta
When eye drops are used to treat glaucoma, the presence of the medication declines over time until the eye drops are reapplied. As a result, patients may experience fluctuations in intraocular pressure. Additionally, if they forget to apply the eye drops according to the schedule, more significant fluctuations can occur.
The Durysta implant ensures that medication is steadily released over time. This creates greater stability when it comes to eye pressure, even overnight. The implant provides stability for a minimum of four to six months, though patients may experience lower pressure up to 24 months after insertion.
Durysta Is Simpler for Patients
One of the challenges of using eye drops to treat glaucoma is the need for frequent applications. While the frequency of use does vary depending on a patient’s needs, some may need to apply the eye drops up to four times daily. That’s a potentially challenging schedule to maintain, particularly for people who are on the go or may struggle with remembering to use the medication.
With the Durysta implant, patients don’t need to take action to ensure they’re getting the treatment. Once inserted, Durysta slowly releases the medication on its own. As a result, it’s far simpler for patients to use, as once it’s in place, no further effort is typically required.
See The Best Doctors in Buffalo for Glaucoma Treatment
At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma and want to see if the Durysta implant is right for you or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.
About three million people each year in the U.S. live with the disease called glaucoma. One-half of these people don’t even realize they have the disease. Over time, glaucoma can degrade the eye’s function and even cause blindness. That’s why an annual eye exam is critical to preventing this disease.
But what treatment options are open for people who experience glaucoma? Eye drops and glaucoma surgery is the traditional treatment for this disease. But glaucoma treatment in Buffalo is changing. A more modern approach to glaucoma surgery is decreasing downtime from this procedure and improving healthcare outcomes for patients suffering from the disease. We’d like to introduce you to minimally invasive glaucoma surgery as an exciting new treatment options for restoring the health of your eyes.
What is Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS)?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can damage the optic nerve. An increase in intraocular pressure causes the disease. If left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and even blindness. Historically, traditional glaucoma surgery has been the primary approach to manage the disease. However, recent advancements in the field of ophthalmology have introduced Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS). MIGS is a groundbreaking technique that is changing the landscape of glaucoma treatment in Western New York (WNY).
MIGS procedures in WNY refer to a category of surgical procedures designed to manage glaucoma through small incisions, minimizing trauma to the eye. Unlike traditional glaucoma surgery, MIGS offers a less invasive alternative, making it an appealing choice for patients and ophthalmologists. These procedures have been gaining popularity and have shown promising results in managing glaucoma, with quicker recovery times and fewer complications.
Traditional vs. Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery in WNY
Medical science continues to evolve and improve. Such is the case with glaucoma surgery. Minimally invasive techniques are the next step for glaucoma specialists in Buffalo. While not all patients qualify for MIGS, what are the differences between traditional glaucoma surgery and the less invasive procedure?
What is Traditional Glaucoma Surgery?
Traditional glaucoma surgery typically involves creating a drainage pathway for excess aqueous humor (the clear fluid in the eye) to reduce intraocular pressure. The most common traditional glaucoma surgery is a trabeculectomy, where a small hole is made in the eye to allow fluid to drain out, or a tube shunt implant, which involves the placement of a drainage device in the eye to achieve a similar effect.
While these procedures have effectively lowered intraocular pressure and managed glaucoma, they are associated with certain drawbacks. Traditional surgeries are invasive, requiring a larger incision and extensive manipulation of the eye, which can result in complications and longer recovery times.
How Does Traditional Glaucoma Treatment in Buffalo Compare to MIGS?
In contrast, MIGS procedures are designed to be minimally invasive, utilizing micro-incisions and tiny devices to enhance the outflow of aqueous humor from the eye. These procedures are typically performed with specialized equipment, such as microscopes and fine instruments, allowing for a high degree of precision.
MIGS procedures differ from traditional surgeries in their surgical approach and the extent of tissue manipulation. They are often performed conjunctively or through the cornea, reducing the risk of complications associated with larger incisions.
What Are the Advantages of MIGS over Traditional Surgery?
MIGS is Minimally Invasive
One of the primary advantages of MIGS is its minimally invasive nature. The micro-incisions and small devices used in MIGS reduce the risk of complications, such as infection and inflammation, associated with larger incisions in traditional glaucoma surgery.
Reduced Postoperative Discomfort
MIGS procedures are associated with minimal postoperative discomfort and a quicker recovery time. Patients often experience less pain and a faster return to their normal daily activities, which is a significant advantage over traditional surgery.
Preservation of Conjunctival Tissue
Traditional glaucoma surgery typically involves the creation of a conjunctival flap, which can lead to long-term complications, including scarring and conjunctival overgrowth. In contrast, MIGS procedures aim to preserve conjunctival tissue, reducing the risk of these complications.
Effective Intraocular Pressure Control
MIGS procedures have proven effective in lowering and maintaining intraocular pressure, a crucial factor in managing glaucoma. They offer a viable option for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, where traditional surgeries may be considered overly aggressive.
Compatibility with Cataract Surgery
One significant advantage of MIGS is its compatibility with cataract surgery, which is common in older patients. Patients requiring cataract and glaucoma treatment can undergo these procedures concurrently, reducing the need for multiple surgeries.
What are the Benefits of MIGS Procedures for Glaucoma Patients in WNY?
A common concern for older patients in WNY is the concurrent presence of both cataracts and glaucoma. Traditional glaucoma surgery and cataract surgery are typically separate procedures, which can be burdensome for patients and increase the risk of complications. MIGS procedures offer a solution to this issue by being compatible with cataract surgery. Patients who require treatment for cataracts and glaucoma can undergo MIGS and cataract surgery simultaneously. The benefit of this approach is is reduces the number of surgical interventions required and allows for the efficient management of both conditions, improving the overall quality of care for these patients.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery Has Fewer Complications
One of the most compelling benefits of MIGS procedures for glaucoma patients in Western New York is reducing postoperative complications. Traditional glaucoma surgery often involves the creation of a large, full-thickness flap in the conjunctiva, which can lead to complications such as infection, excessive scarring, and even conjunctival overgrowth. With their minimally invasive approach, MIGS procedures minimize these risks, making them a safer option for many patients.
In addition to reducing the likelihood of complications, MIGS can also be performed without disturbing the anatomy of the eye to a significant extent. Preservation of ocular integrity is particularly important for patients who may require further eye surgery in the future.
MIGS Procedures Have Minimized Postoperative Discomfort
Another significant advantage of MIGS procedures is the reduction in postoperative discomfort. Traditional glaucoma surgery can lead to significant pain and discomfort in the days following the procedure. In contrast, MIGS patients typically experience much milder discomfort, allowing for a quicker return to their daily activities and improved quality of life. This aspect of MIGS makes it an attractive option for patients who may be hesitant about the pain associated with traditional surgery.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery Preserves Conjunctival Tissue
The preservation of conjunctival tissue is a crucial benefit of MIGS procedures. Traditional glaucoma surgery often necessitates the creation of a conjunctival flap, which can lead to long-term complications such as scarring and overgrowth. It can be particularly problematic if the patient needs additional eye surgeries in the future, as the integrity of the conjunctiva may be compromised.
MIGS procedures aim to minimize manipulation of the conjunctiva, preserving this delicate tissue. MIGS can reduce the risk of complications but also ensure that the patient’s eye remains in optimal condition for any future procedures. Preserving conjunctival tissue is a significant advantage for patients in WNY seeking effective and sustainable glaucoma management.
MIGS Procedures are Effective at Controlling Intraocular Pressure
Effective control of intraocular pressure is the primary goal of glaucoma treatment, as elevated intraocular pressure is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage. MIGS procedures have demonstrated their ability to lower and maintain intraocular pressure, making them a valuable tool in managing glaucoma.
While traditional glaucoma surgery can be highly effective at lowering intraocular pressure, it is often considered a more aggressive approach. MIGS is particularly well-suited for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, where the less invasive nature of these procedures can provide adequate pressure control without the risks associated with traditional surgery.
MIGS Procedures are Compatible with Cataract Surgery
A common concern for older patients in WNY is the concurrent presence of both cataracts and glaucoma. Traditional glaucoma surgery and cataract surgery are typically separate procedures, which can be burdensome for patients and increase the risk of complications. MIGS procedures offer a solution to this issue by being compatible with cataract surgery.
What is the Recovery Time for Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery in WNY?
The recovery time for MIGS procedures in WNY is significantly shorter when compared to traditional glaucoma surgery. Patients who undergo MIGS can often expect to return to their normal daily activities within a few days to a week. The minimally invasive nature of MIGS, smaller incisions, and reduced tissue manipulation contribute to this faster recovery.
In contrast, traditional glaucoma surgery often requires a longer recovery period. Creating a full-thickness conjunctival flap and extensive manipulation of the eye can result in a more prolonged healing process, with some patients experiencing discomfort for several weeks.
It’s important to note that individual recovery times can vary depending on the specific MIGS procedure, the patient’s overall health, and their adherence to postoperative care instructions. MIGS generally offers a swifter return to normal life, making it a more convenient option for patients in Western New York seeking glaucoma treatment.
Schedule a Consultation to Find Out if Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery in WNY is Right for You
MIGS has emerged as a game-changer in glaucoma treatment for patients seeking glaucoma treatment in Buffalo. The benefits of MIGS make it a highly appealing option for patients and glaucoma specialists in Buffalo. As advancements in ophthalmology continue, MIGS stands out as a revolutionary approach that is improving the outlook for individuals living with glaucoma in Western New York. Eye Care & Vision Associates (ECVA) offers patients expert glaucoma specialists in Buffalo specializing in modern, effective treatments for this disease. To talk with our staff about your treatment options, please contact one of our glaucoma specialists in Williamsville, Buffalo, Orchard Park, or Niagara Falls.
A glaucoma diagnosis is often scary, as glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. While there is no cure for glaucoma, many treatment options can help preserve your vision. One of the newer options for open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and ocular hypertension (OHT) is Durysta. If you’re wondering whether Durysta is a better choice than eye drops, here is some information that can help you choose the right glaucoma treatment for you.
What Is Durysta?
Durysta is a bimatoprost intracameral implant that received FDA approval for the treatment of glaucoma in 2020. It’s a system that slowly releases bimatoprost – a medication that addresses high pressure in the eye – over the course of several months after insertion, allowing for the targeted delivery of bimatoprost to impacted tissues.
Durysta vs. Eye Drops
Durysta has better efficacy when compared to glaucoma eye drops. With eye drops, only a small percentage of the medication reaches the affected tissues. With Durysta, the implant is positioned in the intracameral cavity, allowing the medication to reach impacted tissues more reliably.
With Durysta, eye drops aren’t required. The implant delivers the medication steadily over several months, allowing treatment to occur with essentially no daily effort. Glaucoma eye drops are comparatively more cumbersome. Patients must remember to apply them in accordance with the outlined schedule to achieve the best results, and that can prove tricky in some cases.
Since Durysta involves the sustained release of medication, it can also reduce pressure fluctuations in the eye. The continuous delivery essentially leads to stability. In comparison, eye pressure fluctuations can occur when using eye drops. Mainly, that’s because the medication isn’t continuously present when using the eye drop treatment method, which can lead to less stability.
While minimally invasive glaucoma surgery alternatives require incisions, that isn’t necessary with Durysta. Instead, the implant is placed using a very fine gauge needle only, which could make it a strong option for patients who aren’t eligible for the other surgical approaches.
Glaucoma eye drops are also available to most patients who aren’t eligible for surgery. However, eye drops typically provide results that fall short of what’s possible with Durysta, which could make Durysta the better choice for some.
Choosing the Right Glaucoma Treatment
Durysta is highly convenient and very effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. If you’re trying to choose the best glaucoma treatment for your case, then consulting with your eye care provider is essential. They can help determine which of the available options are viable based on a variety of factors, ensuring you’re able to select a treatment that will meet your unique needs.
At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you’re trying to choose the right glaucoma treatment or simply haven’t visited your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today
There’s a reason why we call glaucoma the ‘silent thief of sight,’; 10% of patients who receive treatment still experience vision loss. Each year, more than 120,000 Americans experience blindness from this disease.
Glaucoma causes an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the eye’s optic nerve over time. While glaucoma is typically managed through medication and lifestyle changes, there are instances when glaucoma surgery becomes necessary to halt its progressive damage. This article explores the treatments available and how glaucoma surgery in WNY can save your eyesight.
When is Glaucoma Surgery Necessary?
Progressive damage to the optic nerve is the primary concern in glaucoma management. In the early stages of the disease, doctors prescribe eye drops or oral medications to lower IOP and prevent further damage. These medications work by reducing the production of aqueous humor (the fluid inside the eye) or increasing its drainage. However, not all patients respond well to medications, and some may experience continued optic nerve deterioration despite consistent treatment.
When glaucoma’s progression cannot be adequately controlled with medication alone, surgical intervention becomes necessary. Doctor’s base this decision on a careful assessment of the patient’s optic nerve health, visual field tests, and the rate of disease progression. Surgery creates alternative pathways for drainage aqueous humor, thus reducing IOP and preventing further damage to the optic nerve.
Medication intolerance is another factor that can necessitate glaucoma surgery. Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to the components of glaucoma medications, leading to unpleasant side effects or an inability to tolerate the prescribed eye drops. Common side effects of glaucoma medications include redness, burning, stinging, and changes in heart rate. These complications significantly impact the patient’s quality of life, so doctor’s may explore alternative treatment options like surgery.
Advanced glaucoma presents a critical scenario where surgery is often the only viable option. In advanced stages of the disease, optic nerve damage is extensive, and visual field loss is significant. Medications alone may no longer be sufficient to control IOP and prevent further vision deterioration. Surgical intervention is crucial in these cases to salvage the vision and halt further progression.
What are the Different Types of Glaucoma Surgery?
Glaucoma surgery offers a long-term solution for individuals who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to medications. Glaucoma surgery encompasses various techniques and procedures aimed at reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) and preserving the health of the optic nerve. The choice of surgery depends on the type and severity of glaucoma, the patient’s medical history, and other factors. Some of the different types of glaucoma surgery include:
Trabeculectomy is one of the most common and traditional surgical procedures for glaucoma. In this procedure, a small flap is created in the white part of the eye (sclera), allowing aqueous humor (the eye’s fluid) to drain out of the eye. A filter is formed under the conjunctiva (the clear covering over the sclera) to collect and regulate fluid drainage. Trabeculectomy is performed in open-angle glaucoma cases to help reduce intraocular pressure.
Tube shunt implantation involves inserting a small tube or shunt into the eye to create a drainage pathway for aqueous humor. The tube is typically placed in the front part of the eye (the anterior chamber) or the back part of the eye (the vitreous cavity), depending on the specific type of tube used. This surgical approach is often chosen when trabeculectomy is less likely to succeed or has failed in controlling intraocular pressure.
Goniotomy and trabeculotomy are minimally invasive procedures typically performed in infants and children with congenital glaucoma. Goniotomy involves using a specialized lens to access and open the eye’s drainage angle, allowing better fluid outflow. Trabeculotomy involves making tiny incisions in the trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drainage system) to enhance fluid drainage. These procedures treat congenital or pediatric glaucoma by improving the fluid drainage from the eye.
Laser surgeries are less invasive than traditional surgeries and can be performed in an outpatient setting. Laser surgery is often used as a primary treatment or adjunct to medication, especially in open-angle glaucoma. There are several types effective for glaucoma management:
Laser trabeculoplasty involves using a laser to treat the trabecular meshwork, enhancing fluid drainage.
Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) targets specific cells in the drainage system, reducing IOP.
Laser cyclophotocoagulation aims to decrease fluid production by treating the ciliary body.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS) procedures are a group of less invasive techniques designed to lower IOP with fewer complications and a shorter recovery time to traditional surgeries. Some common MIGS procedures include iStent, Hydrus Microstent, and Xen Gel Stent. These devices are typically implanted during cataract surgery or as standalone procedures and are suitable for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma.
Cyclodestructive procedures involve destroying or reducing aqueous humor production by treating the ciliary body. These procedures are for advanced or refractory glaucoma cases. Options include cyclophotocoagulation using lasers or cryotherapy (freezing) to target the ciliary body.
The choice of glaucoma surgery depends on various factors, including the type and severity of glaucoma, the patient’s overall health, and the surgeon’s expertise. Individuals with glaucoma must consult with glaucoma specialists to determine the most appropriate surgical approach for their specific condition.
What to Expect Following Glaucoma Surgery in WNY
Like any major surgery, there will be a recovery period after your glaucoma procedure.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma surgery reduces IOP and preserves the health of the optic nerve, especially when conservative treatments like medications have proven ineffective. The recovery period after glaucoma surgery varies depending on the specific procedure performed, the individual’s overall health, and the extent of the surgical intervention.
Immediate Post-Op Period
The immediate post-operative period spans the first few hours after glaucoma surgery. During this time, patients are typically monitored in a recovery area to ensure no immediate complications. You may experience some discomfort, redness, or blurred vision immediately after the surgery. Always have someone accompany you for transportation home as your vision may be impaired.
First Few Days After Surgery
In the first few days after glaucoma surgery, it is common to experience some discomfort, mild pain, and blurred vision. The eye may be sensitive to light, and you may notice some redness and swelling around the surgical site. The use of prescribed eye drops or ointments is essential during this period to prevent infection and promote healing. It’s crucial to follow the medication schedule as prescribed by your surgeon.
Your doctor will advise you to avoid activities that could increase intraocular pressure, such as heavy lifting, straining, or bending over. Additionally, driving may be restricted during this time due to vision impairment. Most patients are advised to take it easy and rest as much as possible during the first few days.
During the first week or two after glaucoma surgery, the initial discomfort and redness typically subside. Your vision may start to improve, but it may take some time to stabilize fully. Many patients can gradually resume light activities, but should still avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects. Be sure to follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding activity levels.
Attend follow-up appointments with your eye surgeon as scheduled during this period. These appointments are crucial for monitoring your progress and making any necessary adjustments to your medication regimen. Your surgeon will also assess the success of the surgery in reducing intraocular pressure.
Between the second and sixth weeks after glaucoma surgery, your eye should continue to heal and stabilize. Vision improvement may be more noticeable during this time, although it can still vary from person to person. Many patients can gradually return to their regular daily activities, including work, with the approval of their surgeon.
The frequency of post-operative check-ups may decrease during this period, but it’s essential to continue using prescribed eye drops as directed. Your surgeon will monitor your IOP and evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the surgery.
Long-term recovery from glaucoma surgery extends beyond the initial weeks and can last several months. While you may experience significant improvement in vision and IOP control, it’s important to remember that glaucoma management is a long-term effort that requires ongoing steps. Regular follow-up appointments with your glaucoma specialists are essential to monitor the health of your eyes and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Tips for Glaucoma Surgery Aftercare
No matter the type of glaucoma surgery, the most important advice is to follow your doctor’s orders diligently. For example:
Adhere to the prescribed medication schedule diligently, as eye drops or ointments are critical to preventing infection and promoting healing.
Take it easy during the early recovery period. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and activities that could increase intraocular pressure.
Keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your glaucoma specialists to monitor your progress and ensure the success of the surgery.
Wear the protective eyewear your surgeon recommends, especially during activities where there is an injury risk.
A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, can contribute to your overall eye health and well-being.
Educate yourself about glaucoma and its management. Understanding your condition can help you make informed decisions about your care and improve glaucoma management for the long haul.
Consult the Experts at ECVA for Glaucoma Surgery in WNY
Glaucoma, often called the “silent thief of sight,” is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, leading to progressive vision loss and even blindness if left untreated. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Traditional treatment methods for glaucoma primarily involve medication, eye drops, and, in more severe cases, surgical intervention.
In recent years, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) has emerged as a revolutionary approach to treating glaucoma. This advanced laser surgery offers a promising alternative to traditional methods, redefining the landscape of glaucoma care and aiming for lasting visual health.
What is SLT?
Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) for glaucoma is an innovative and advanced medical procedure to treat the chronic eye condition that leads to optic nerve damage and vision loss. SLT targets the drainage system of the eye, known as the trabecular meshwork, to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), a critical factor in the progression of glaucoma.
Unlike traditional laser procedures that aim to create permanent tissue damage to increase drainage, SLT laser treatment for glaucoma takes a more precise and selective approach. This type of glaucoma laser surgery utilizes short pulses of low-energy laser light to target specific cells within the trabecular meshwork. These cells contain melanin, a natural pigment that readily absorbs the laser energy. When exposed to the laser, these melanin-containing cells undergo subtle changes that improve the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid that fills the front of the eye.
The term “selective” in SLT refers to the laser’s ability to target only specific cells while leaving surrounding tissues unaffected. This targeted treatment approach distinguishes SLT from earlier forms of glaucoma laser surgery, which were associated with higher levels of tissue damage and potential complications.
SLT’s non-destructive nature is a key factor in its success. The body’s natural healing response triggers after SLT, leading to sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and, subsequently, a reduction in intraocular pressure. This reduction in pressure is crucial in managing glaucoma, as elevated IOP is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage and visual field loss.
An important advantage of SLT is its potential for repeatability. Unlike some surgical procedures that create permanent changes, SLT can be repeated in the future if necessary, making it a valuable tool for long-term glaucoma management.
SLT laser surgery for glaucoma has gained popularity for its effectiveness in lowering intraocular pressure, its minimal invasiveness, and relatively quick recovery period. Patients who undergo SLT typically experience minimal discomfort during and after the procedure. The absence of surgical incisions reduces the risk of infection and complications, contributing to a smoother recovery process. Many individuals can return to normal activities shortly after the procedure, enhancing the overall patient experience.
How Does SLT Laser Surgery Work?
SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a cutting-edge medical procedure transforming management of this debilitating disease. There are six specific processes at work within this type of glaucoma laser surgery:
1. Targeting the Trabecular Meshwork
The key to SLT’s success is its ability to target the trabecular meshwork, a specialized tissue structure located at the junction between the iris and the cornea. The trabecular meshwork plays a crucial role in regulating the drainage of aqueous humor, the clear fluid filling the front part of the eye. In glaucoma, this drainage system becomes compromised, leading to a buildup of intraocular pressure that can damage the optic nerve and result in vision loss.
2. Low-Energy Laser Pulses
During SLT laser treatment for glaucoma, a specially calibrated laser emits short pulses of low-energy light. Unlike traditional laser treatments that aim to create permanent tissue damage, SLT is non-destructive. The laser’s energy is selectively absorbed by melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. Melanin is a natural pigment found in the body, including the eye.
3. Stimulating Cellular Changes
When the melanin-containing cells absorb the laser energy, they undergo subtle but important changes. These cellular changes trigger a series of biological responses within the trabecular meshwork, leading to improved drainage of aqueous humor. As a result, the pressure within the eye gradually reduces, alleviating the strain on the optic nerve.
4. Natural Healing Process
One of the remarkable aspects of SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is its reliance on the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The laser-induced changes within the trabecular meshwork prompt the body to initiate a healing response. Over time, the treated area undergoes healing and remodeling, further enhancing the drainage pathways. This healing process contributes to the sustained reduction in intraocular pressure achieved through SLT.
Pros of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma
SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is highly effective. One study showed a 70% effectiveness rate at reducing IOP with no medications needed six months after treatment. Some of the benefits of SLT laser treatment include the following.
SLT laser treatment for glaucoma offers a remarkable level of precision. Unlike traditional surgical methods, SLT’s laser energy targets melanin-containing cells within the trabecular meshwork. A targeted approach promotes enhanced drainage of aqueous humor, reducing IOP and preventing further optic nerve damage. The precision of SLT ensures that surrounding tissues remain unaffected, minimizing the risk of complications and preserving overall eye health.
SLT’s impact endures over time, contributing to its effectiveness in glaucoma management. By triggering the body’s natural healing response, SLT laser surgery for glaucoma creates sustained improvements in aqueous humor drainage and lasting reductions in IOP. The procedure’s effects are especially valuable for patients seeking a long-term solution for their glaucoma. The option for repeat procedures allows eye care professionals to tailor treatment plans based on individual needs and disease progression.
SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is an outpatient procedure, meaning patients do not need to stay in the hospital overnight. The procedure is relatively quick, completed within a matter of minutes. Because it involves a laser, no surgical incisions or stitches are required. As a result, the risk of infection and complications is minimal. Patients typically experience minimal discomfort during the procedure and can return to normal activities shortly afterward.
Decreased Reliance on Drops
Another significant advantage of SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is its potential for repeatability. Because the procedure does not cause permanent tissue damage, it can be repeated if necessary. Some patients may require multiple SLT sessions over time to maintain the desired reduction in intraocular pressure. This adaptability is valuable for long-term glaucoma management, reducing or eliminating the need for daily drops.
Who is a Good Candidate for SLT Laser Surgery?
SLT laser treatment for glaucoma has revolutionized glaucoma management by providing a minimally invasive and effective treatment option for lowering intraocular pressure (IOP). Only some people with glaucoma are suitable candidates for SLT, but the procedure can benefit specific individuals. Below are key considerations that make someone a good candidate for SLT laser surgery.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, occurring when the eye’s drainage angle remains open but becomes less efficient. This condition increases IOP and damage to the optic nerve. SLT laser treatment for glaucoma is particularly effective for individuals with open-angle glaucoma, as it targets the trabecular meshwork, the main site of drainage resistance in this form of glaucoma. The selective laser pulses stimulate cellular changes that improve drainage, effectively reducing IOP and slowing down the progression of the disease.
Primary or Secondary Glaucoma
Primary (occurring independently) and secondary (resulting from other medical conditions or eye issues) glaucoma patients can benefit from SLT. The procedure’s ability to enhance drainage pathways makes it a viable treatment option for various forms of glaucoma.
Patients experiencing challenges with glaucoma medications, such as non-compliance, side effects, or difficulty administering eye drops, may be excellent candidates for SLT. The procedure can reduce or eliminate the need for multiple medications, simplifying the treatment regimen and improving patient compliance. By lowering IOP through SLT laser surgery for glaucoma, individuals may experience improved comfort and quality of life without the burden of managing complex medication regimens.
Mild to Moderate Glaucoma
SLT is most effective for individuals with mild to moderate glaucoma. While the procedure can provide significant benefits in reducing intraocular pressure, it may not be suitable for advanced cases of glaucoma where more aggressive treatment approaches are necessary. Eye care professionals carefully assess each patient’s condition and stage of glaucoma to determine the most appropriate treatment strategy. However, for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, SLT can offer a powerful tool for managing the disease and preventing further vision loss.
What is the Cost of SLT Laser Treatment for Glaucoma?
SLT laser treatment for glaucoma ranges from a few hundred to more than $1,000 per eye. This cost generally covers the procedure itself, pre-operative evaluations, equipment use, eye care professional’s expertise, and any post-operative care. However, this is a general estimate, and actual costs vary widely.
Costs vary based on the geographic location of the medical facility, the experience of the eye care professional, or the specific clinic or hospital chosen. A patient’s insurance coverage or healthcare also plays a role in determining the out-of-pocket cost for the procedure.
SLT laser surgery is a medical procedure rather than a cosmetic one, meaning health insurance plans that include glaucoma treatments might cover it. However, insurance coverage policies differ significantly, so patients should contact their insurance providers to determine whether the surgery is covered.
Is SLT Laser Surgery Right for You? Consult the Glaucoma Specialists at ECVA
SLT laser surgery for glaucoma is a transformative treatment option. By enhancing the eye’s drainage system and reducing intraocular pressure, SLT can slow down the progression of glaucoma and help preserve lasting visual health. As always, consulting with an experienced ophthalmologist is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual patient needs and the specific characteristics of their glaucoma. ECVA offers glaucoma patients several options for treatment, including laser surgery. Talk with our glaucoma specialists in Williamsville, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, or Orchard Park today about how we can protect your vision health at every stage of your life.
Glaucoma is an eye condition involving damage to the optic nerve, at times also including increased intraocular pressure. Over time, glaucoma typically leads to permanent vision loss as the optic nerve deteriorates.
Anyone is technically at risk of developing glaucoma, so understanding what the first signs of the condition are critical. That allows you to take swift action if symptoms develop, making it easier to preserve your vision through proper treatment.
The First Signs of Glaucoma
There are a few early warning signs that glaucoma is developing. Some patients may only have a single symptom, while others may experience several. Regardless of the number of symptoms, it’s critical to understand that they’re potentially indicative of a serious condition.
Here’s a look at some of the first signs of glaucoma.
Blurry or Hazy Vision
Intraocular pressure and optic nerve damage both impact visual acuity. As a result, one of the first signs may people with early-stage glaucoma notice is blurriness or hazy vision. In some cases, patients may also experience other visual distortions. Regardless of its nature, any vision changes are worrisome, as they’re often indicative of an eye condition.
Increased pressure in the eye can lead to redness. Its severity can vary, as well as its persistence. However, eye redness without a clear cause is a potential sign of glaucoma.
Halos Around Lights
Halos around lights are potentially a symptom of several eye conditions, including glaucoma. In some cases, the halos experienced by those developing glaucoma are described as both colorful and bright. However, any halos that aren’t attributed to a known condition are potentially concerning.
Glaucoma can cause eye pain, even in the early stages. Additionally, headaches can also occur in the eye area. Often, the pain is severe, often so much so that it differentiates itself from other types of headaches.
Nausea or Vomiting
Typically, nausea or vomiting alone aren’t symptoms of glaucoma. However, if they’re accompanied by vision changes and eye pain, they’re potentially symptoms of the condition.
What to Do If You Have Signs of Glaucoma
If you’re experiencing any of the early signs of glaucoma above, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your eye care provider right away. They can formally evaluate you for the condition, and if glaucoma is responsible for your symptoms, they’ll develop a plan to reduce damage and alleviate symptoms.
Even if glaucoma isn’t responsible, some of the symptoms above are associated with other serious eye conditions. As a result, it’s always best to get evaluated right away if you’re experiencing vision changes, eye pain, unexplained redness, or halos, including if it is or isn’t associated with nausea or vomiting.
At ECVA, the safety and health of our patients’ eyes are our priority. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above that could indicate glaucoma or simply haven’t seen your eye care provider in the past year, the ECVA team is here to help. Schedule an appointment at your closest ECVA clinic today.