Thanks to the advancement of medicine and technology, there are more treatment options for glaucoma than ever before – which is fortunate considering how urgent glaucoma treatment can be. Medical scientists specializing in ophthalmology have created several reliable treatment interventions for glaucoma. At Witchita Vision Institute in Witchita, KS, Dr. Patel is an expert in many of these treatments, including Hydrus, a revolutionary treatment for glaucoma.
What Is Hydrus?
Hydrus is a minimally invasive eye surgery that is designed to relieve the build-up of fluid that causes pressure to be placed on the optic nerves of the eye, which can drastically distort vision and potentially cause permanent vision loss. This surgery is less invasive than traditional glaucoma surgery, making it a preferable option for patients who want faster recovery times and less risk of complications. Overall, this treatment is ideal for patients who have open-angle glaucoma.
How Does This Surgery Work?
Hydrus is a micro-stent, which means it is an implant that is placed in the eye essentially as a spacer for your natural fluid drainage channels. The micro-stent is about the same size as an eyelash and made with nickel alloy. The theoretical basis behind this treatment is to give the natural shape of your eye more room to drain eye fluid, which will resolve the issue of fluid building up and causing pressure to be placed on the optic nerves and damaging the eye.
Why Should You Use Hydrus?
Although newer than traditional glaucoma surgery, there are plenty of reasons to use this micro-stent. For one thing, this is a minimally invasive treatment that does not have the same risks as traditional surgery, meaning it is safer for you overall.
For another, the micro-stent does not need to be replaced at any time after surgery, making it preferable to other glaucoma surgeries that may require follow-up. Finally, this micro-stent procedure is ideal for patients with open-eye glaucoma, which is sometimes more difficult to treat with other alternative treatments.
What Is Involved in Your Consultation?
Prior to the scheduling of your surgery appointment, you will need to attend a consultation with Dr. Patel. The consultation will give you a chance to discuss your symptoms, assess the severity of your glaucoma, and explore all treatment options available to you. Part of your consultation will include gathering certain information about you, such as your general medical history, any family history of glaucoma, and any medications or previous treatments you have used for glaucoma.
You will also complete several pre-operative exams. The pre-operative exams will test your intraocular pressure, any current damage to the optic nerve fibers, your visual field perception, and the shape and length of your eye. Each of these exams is personally performed by Dr. Patel.
What Are the Surgery Steps?
Step One: IV Sedative and Anesthetic Eye Drops
Before your surgery begins, we will administer both a mild IV sedative and anesthetic eye drops or an anesthetic eye solution to ensure your comfort during the surgery. Many patients sleep through the surgery or feel no sensation at all. Both of these medications will be allowed time to be absorbed before further treatment steps are taken.
Step Two: Incision and Microstent Placement
A small micro-incision will be made on the surface of your eye, generally near the iris, about 2mm in length. The incision is just large enough for the micro-stent to be placed and installed into the Schlemm’s canal, which will dilate the canal and allow for a better aqueous flow, or a faster flow of fluid in the eye.
Step Three: Closing
Once the micro-stent has been placed, the incision will be closed and your surgery will be over. You will be allowed to rest for a while before you are taken to see Dr. Patel for post-operative examinations and instructions.
How Long Does Treatment Take?
This micro-stent surgery generally takes about 30 minutes to complete for most patients. You will need to arrange for transportation after your surgery and for time off during your recovery period.
What Can You Expect From Recovery?
Just as with any other eye surgery, you can expect to spend at least 5 to 7 days in recovery. Your recovery from the surgery may take as many as 3 weeks to fully heal, although this time varies among patients based on a variety of factors, such as age and the severity of glaucoma.
Following your surgery, you will meet with Dr. Patel for a post-operative exam and to receive post-treatment instructions that are meant to guide you safely through the recovery period. Some post-treatment instructions will include:
- Use eye drops and prescriptions prescribed to you
- Do not rub or touch the eye
- Do not wear eye make-up
- Wear sunglasses and avoid direct sunlight
- Wear special eye shield at night
- No strenuous activity or heavy lifting
How Many Follow-Up Appointments Will You Need?
It is typical to have more than one follow-up appointment following any eye surgery. The follow-up appointments will assess how well you are healing from the surgery as well as how well you are responding to the treatment. Many of your follow-up appointment will test your intraocular pressure and other symptoms of glaucoma.
What Are Results Like?
Most patients find immediate relief from intraocular pressure in the days following this surgery. Along with clearer vision and less eye pressure, many patients find that their visual perception is restored and that they have fewer headaches or migraines.
How Long Do Results Last?
Results for this treatment are long-lasting, with many patients able to enjoy relief from intraocular pressure for 2 years or more. Your results may last longer if you have mild or moderate glaucoma, and if the microstent creates enough room to consistently drain fluid from the eye.
Hydrus Microstent Glaucoma Surgery FAQ
1. What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to several eye conditions that cause fluid to build-up in the eye and place pressure on the optic nerves, which ultimately causes damage to the optic nerve and may result in blindness if untreated. Glaucoma is like a pressure valve that is incapable of releasing and leads to permanent damage. Glaucoma can happen to anyone of any age, although it is more common in older adults who have preexisting eye conditions, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in America and has many symptoms associated with it, including:
- Blurred vision
- Halos or rainbows in vision
- Sudden vision loss
- Headaches or migraines
- Limited field of vision
- Eye pressure
- Mismatched eye shape
2. What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve when normal eye fluid is not able to release itself, which builds pressure on the eye and interferes with normal vision, including visual perception. There are several risk factors associated with the disease, such as:
- Family history
- Preexisting eye conditions
- Eye injuries
Although glaucoma is more common in aging adults, it can develop at any time in people of any age, including toddlers. Glaucoma is generally thought of as a genetic disease but is also commonly found in those who are diagnosed with diabetes; please let Dr. Patel know if you have either of these risk factors during your consultation appointment.
3. Can You Stop Glaucoma From Developing?
No, there is no way to prevent the development of glaucoma. Lifestyle habits and regular eye care are not proven to prevent glaucoma formation, meaning there is very little you can do to avoid glaucoma. The best thing you can do for your health and your eyesight is to be aware of family history and comorbid diseases and to seek care as soon as symptoms are apparent.
4. Can You Have Glaucoma and Cataract Surgery Together?
Absolutely. In fact, it is very common to combine glaucoma and cataract surgery into one procedure especially if both conditions are happening at the same time. Because both surgeries require small incisions to be made on the surface of the eye, it is very easy to complete both surgeries at the same time – both a micro-stent for glaucoma and intraocular lenses for cataracts can be placed during the same surgery.
Cataract surgery involves the excision and extraction of cataracts from the eye and usually means that the natural lens needs to be replaced with an artificial lens. The artificial lens is called an intraocular lens and can be used as a corrective measure for common vision problems, such as astigmatism, nearsightedness and farsightedness, depth perception, and inability to see in low lighting. Dr. Patel recommends PanOptix and Toric intraocular lenses for cataract surgery.
5. When Do You Need Glaucoma Surgery?
It is possible that you will need another surgery for glaucoma in the future. Although this surgery gives you the advantage of permanent relief from clogged fluids in the eye causing pressure, it is possible that your glaucoma will return due to age or medication later in life. Fortunately, this micro-stent greatly reduces the risk of complication or failure in future glaucoma surgeries as it does not require conjunctival tissues to be opened for treatment.
6. Are There Other Treatments for Glaucoma?
Yes. Aside from micro-stent surgery, you have several other options for the treatment of glaucoma, including traditional glaucoma surgery, OMNI surgery, medications, and eye drops. Depending on the severity of your glaucoma, it may be beneficial to try medication before surgery to see if a biologic intervention is enough to slow the progression of the disease.
7. Will You Need Another Microstent Surgery?
It is possible you will require another glaucoma surgery in the future, although this typically only happens when the disease progresses to such a degree that the micro-stent or other treatment is no longer effective. Dr. Patel will discuss your treatment outlook with you during your post-operative exam and let you know the likelihood of requiring additional surgery down the line.
8. Are You a Good Candidate for Hydrus Microstent?
The majority of patients who have open-angle glaucoma are potentially good candidates for this treatment. Ideally, patients with open-angle glaucoma have mild or moderate cases to qualify for this surgery. There are no medical restrictions associated with this surgery and patients of all ages qualify. If you are looking for a minimally invasive surgical treatment for open-angle glaucoma, then this surgery is likely right for you.
Relieve Eye Pressure With Hydrus Microstent Glaucoma Surgery
Treatment for glaucoma is an urgent matter to relieve eye pressure and save optic nerves from permanent damage. Hydrus micro-stent surgery may be a good option for your glaucoma treatment.