Hannah F. Pietsch
Treating glaucoma without permanent eye changesHouston, TX - 8/21/2013
For the more than 2.7 million Americans suffering from glaucoma, traditional treatment options leave much to be desired. Houstonians diagnosed with glaucoma now have access to a promising minimally-invasive treatment option that is only available at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Glaucoma is increased fluid pressure in the eye that can damage the optic nerve and lead to permanent blindness. Some glaucoma patients are treated with eye drops, while others undergo surgery to relieve the pressure. Traditional glaucoma surgery includes cutting a small hole in the eye to allow the fluid to drain to an external chamber.
The current glaucoma procedure permanently changes the anatomy of the eye,” said Dr. Rahul Pandit, ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital. “The Trabectome tool provides a minimally-invasive option for treating glaucoma that works with the eye’s anatomy.”
Trabectome is a surgical instrument with a curved tip that allows surgeons to remove a layer of ocular tissue blocking the eye’s natural drainage ducts through a two-millimeter incision. Within a few days to a week, the accumulated fluid begins to naturally leave the eye through the cleared ducts.
Patients, such as Barbara Curtis, are already seeing the benefits. Since her diagnosis in 1965, Curtis had been on prescription eye drops to treat the pressure, but the drops were actually causing an allergic reaction in her eye that worsened her vision.
Instead of continually trying to medically manage the fluid pressure, we decided to proceed with surgery to relieve the pressure on Barbara’s optic nerves and avoid any further eye damage,” said Pandit. “We chose the Trabectome technology over traditional surgery because it was a safer, more effective treatment for Barbara.”
Curtis became one of the first Houston Methodist patients to undergo the new glaucoma surgery.
“As soon as I woke up from surgery, I had no pain and I could see out of my left eye,” Curtis said. “I actually think the vision out of my left eye has improved since the surgery, which is something I didn’t expect to happen.”
According to Pandit, in some cases of advanced glaucoma, patients who undergo this procedure do see improvements in their vision.
“If the ocular nerve tissue is stressed but not completely dead from the high fluid pressure in the eye, some vision recovery is possible when you reduce the pressure.”
Curtis expects to undergo the same procedure on her right eye this fall. Most major medical insurance companies cover this glaucoma procedure.