A Closer Look at the iStent for Glaucoma Relief

June 25th, 2018
doctor examining eye

The smallest FDA-approved medical device is also a way to relieve glaucoma symptoms and treat cataracts.

Thanks to technology and advancements in medicine, there are several ways to make living with glaucoma, an eye disease that damages the optic nerve and can cause vision loss, easier. Some people use eye drops, pills, or a combination of both.

However, there’s another option that may be even more beneficial: the iStent, a small, insertable medical device that consistently works to improve the flow of fluid in your eyes. The iStent not only combats the effects of glaucoma but can also treat cataracts as well.

How the iStent Works

The iStent is the smallest surgical device to be approved by the FDA thus far, measuring 1 mm — just 1/19th the size of a penny. Though it predominantly brings about glaucoma-related relief, the iStent is actually inserted during cataract surgery, which is when the natural lens of the eye, clouded by cataracts, is replaced with an artificial one.

Glaucoma, which impacts vision by damaging the optic nerve, is often the result of abnormal levels of pressure in the eye. This can happen when naturally-occurring fluid doesn’t drain or flow properly, effectively clogging the eye. The iStent works to continuously improve this flow by bypassing the clogged route, which serves to regulate eye pressure and relieve the symptoms of glaucoma.

Benefits of the iStent

Glaucoma and cataracts are both common eye diseases that affect many people as they grow older. Because the iStent is inserted during cataract surgery, it notably allows for mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma and cataracts to be treated simultaneously.

People who have the iStent insert generally don’t need to use medications like eyedrops in order to manage their glaucoma. Additionally, unlike some eye procedures, iStent insertion is covered by most insurances, including Medicare.

Recovery Time

Since iStent insertion happens during cataract surgery, there is no additional incision or anesthesia needed. Thus, recovery will be similar to recovery from typical cataract surgery: you’ll be given local anesthetic for the procedure, and you’ll be able to return home that same day, with some medicated eye drops to help with any post-operative discomfort and ward off infection.

You’ll likely have to go in for a follow-up exam the following day, but will generally be able to resume all normal activities within a few days, if not sooner. However, it’s usually recommended to refrain from strenuous activities for a while, such as contact sports or heavy lifting, as this could increase eye pressure.

If you think you may be suffering from glaucoma or cataracts and are not sure which treatment method is best for you, consider the iStent. The eye care professionals at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers are trained in dealing with eye-related issues of all sorts, including glaucoma treatment and iStent insertion. Schedule an initial consultation with us today, either online or by phone.