Hello Mini Shunt! Good Bye Glaucoma Drops!!

‘Beep Beep’

“Hey move out of the way!”

‘ Honk Honk!!’

“Ugh! I hate this traffic!”

No, this is not a scene out of a city street. This is what happens in your eyes when you suffer from open angle glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition in which there is damage to the nerve inside your eyes (called optic nerve) or the retina (light sensitive tissue at the back of your eyes) due to raised pressure inside your eyes. This is of two types – open angle and narrow angle. In open angle glaucoma, there is imbalance in the drainage and production of the fluid inside the front part of the eye. Either due to over production of the fluid or due to the clogging of the drainage system, the fluid inside the eye goes on accumulating. This raises the pressure inside your eye.

This is the traffic jam of the sorts that is seen at peak rush hours in our cities. Only this time, it’s the fluid that builds up.

Unlike the cacophony of honking cars and irate drivers that is seen in a traffic jam, glaucoma is relatively silent. In fact, it is more notoriously famous as the silent thief of sight. That is because; glaucoma causes damage to your eyes very stealthily. Patients may not even recognise this disease as there may be no pain or any apparent symptoms for months or even years.

How does this menace cured? Unfortunately, there is no cure as the nerve damage that has once occurred cannot usually be reversed. It can only be controlled using medications to lower the eye pressure.

This is like the traffic lights that are put up at traffic prone junctions and cross roads. But then, there are always those people who pride themselves in jumping traffic signals with disregard for the rules.

When it comes to Glaucoma, these hooligans are replaced by a more common rogue: our memory. Having to instil eye drops every day for years can be a little difficult for everyone. Not only do people forget, some of them do not respond to these drugs despite using them diligently.

This is where the next level in traffic management steps in. Just like the swanky flyovers that help manage the traffic by bypassing some vehicles to ensure a smooth ride for everyone, a new medical device may now allow patients to stop using eye drop medications. This little wonder is as small as one’s eyelash and is known as the Hydrus Stent. The results of the Hydrus I clinical trials were presented at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

So what is this stent all about? Mini Stents like Hydrus, MIDI Arrow, Transcend, iStent and Aquecentesis are in various stages of being developed. These implants vary in sizes, materials and location of implants. These mini stents provide alternate channels for draining the fluid of the eye, thus bypassing the patients’ blocked channels.

The study that became public recently was conducted on 69 patients who underwent the stent implant surgery. Raised pressures in the eyes were reduced in all 100% of patients. After six months of the surgery, 85% of those who had the stent implanted during a cataract surgery and 70% of those who had got operated only for the stent did not require to use eye drops for raised eye pressures. After one year of the surgery, reductions in the pressures were consistent.

Though further studies are still underway, these initial results seem promising enough for us to hope that the latest advances comes as a new ray of light for those millions whose world is slowly being darkened by Glaucoma.

You may also like to read: Glaucoma

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