Surgeons advance glaucoma treatment by using the smallest ever implant

Surgeons at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are among the first in the UK to introduce a new surgical eye pressure lowering device to help prevent sight loss.

iStent sizeThe iStent is the smallest surgical device that has ever been implanted in the human body at 0.33mm. The miniscule snorkel-like device is made of titanium and is implanted at the end of cataract surgery. It is placed inside the eye to encourage the fluid within the eyeball to drain more effectively. Developed by Glaukos, the iStent weighs just 60 micrograms.

Consultant ophthalmic surgeons and glaucoma specialists at the Western Eye Hospital, Mr Faisal Ahmed, Ms Laura Crawley and Professor Philip Bloom have been implanting the device for over a year with positive results.

Ms Laura Crawley said:


“Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness in the world affecting around half a million people in the UK. This innovation advances our ability to treat glaucoma and reduces the need for glaucoma drops which many patients have difficulty with. We hope the iStent will pave the way for further progress towards overcoming this widespread condition.”

Glaucoma is a condition in which higher pressure in the eye can cause damage to the optic nerve and nerve fibers, ultimately leading to loss of vision. Eye-drops are used to reduce the pressure but only one third of patients use their treatment as prescribed.

The iStent can be used in patients with mild to moderate glaucoma who need to have cataract surgery to improve their vision. It is particularly beneficial for patients who struggle to or neglect to put drops in or those who cannot tolerate the medication.

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