LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 18, 2009) − Patients who have glaucoma now have access to a new treatment option at the University of Kentucky, the only medical facility in the state to offer the procedure. Performed with a device called a Trabectome, the minimally invasive procedure takes about 30 minutes and is designed to decrease pressure within the eye and stabilize vision.
"Trabectome is simpler and safer than traditional glaucoma surgeries and provides excellent eye pressure reduction," said Dr. Sunil Deokule, assistant professor of ophthalmology in the UK College of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and a glaucoma specialist at UK HealthCare.
Glaucoma is a disease that causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve from increasing pressure within the eye. This occurs because the eye produces a clear fluid that does not drain adequately and raises the eye pressure. The first sign of glaucoma is a loss of peripheral vision that is usually not noticed by the patient until it affects the central vision. Vision loss to glaucoma can't be restored so treatment aims to reduce eye pressure to prevent further damage.
Traditionally, ophthalmologists first prescribe eye drops to reduce the eye pressure in glaucoma patients and if that doesn't work, they can perform a laser procedure called a trabeculoplasty to the existing internal drainage canal. If eye drops or the laser procedure are not effective in controlling pressure, the patient may need an operation called trabeculectomy. This involves creating a small hole in the sclera (white of an eye) and removes a small area of trabecular meshwork (tissue that is diseased in glaucoma leading to eye pressure build up). Another operation is to place a silicone tube in an eye to drain fluid. Both these operations have long recovery periods and are associated with multiple complications.
The Trabectome tool is introduced in the eye through a tiny 1.5 millimeter incision at the edge of the cornea. A small strip of trabecular meshwork is then ablated and removed. This gently unblocks the eye and lowers the pressure. The procedure requires very little sedation and patients generally recover within a week.
The benefits of Trabectome over the traditional glaucoma surgery include:
--Low complication rate
--Simpler than traditional surgeries
--Easily combined with cataract surgery
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. An estimated 4 million Americans are affected by glaucoma. Glaucoma screenings are suggested for anyone over 40, every two to four years. A routine exam can help identify risk for glaucoma and early signs of the disease. Risk factors for glaucoma include: a family history of the disease, African Americans or Hispanic ancestry, diabetes, certain rare eye diseases and having had an eye injury or having used any corticosteroid preparation for a prolonged period.
Not all patients with glaucoma are suitable for Trabectome surgery. For more information about Trabectome or other ophthalmologic procedures, or to schedule an appointment, call (859) 323-5867.