At my last eye appointment, my ophthalmologist told me (Jody), “I think you should have a new surgical procedure for glaucoma. It’s cataract surgery combined with insertion of a microstent to lower your IOP” [intraocular pressure].
“Do I have cataracts?” I asked, since they had never been mentioned before.
“Yes, and they are ready to come out.”
We talked a bit more, then I came home and googled “microstent” and “glaucoma.” I learned that microstents have been used for glaucoma treatment in Canada and Europe for several years with good success and none of the side effects of the previous surgical treatment (trabeculectomy). One microstent, the i-stent, was approved by the FDA about a year ago.
The i-stent is tiny, the size of a human hair or ⅓ the size of a grain of rice, the smallest medical device approved by the FDA. Made of titanium, it provides an inside-the-eye passage for ocular fluid from the area where the pressure is too high to the eye’s normal drainage canal (Schlemm’s canal).
Here’s the i-stent, slightly magnified:
And here it is, greatly magnified
What does this mean for me?
- Reduction in my IOP, which should slow my vision loss and possibly reduce the number and frequency of my daily eye drops.
Additionally, removing my cataracts will have at least two benefits:
- My vision may improve! Glaucoma causes optic nerve damage, and that vision loss is forever (barring a miracle). But IF any of my loss is caused by cataracts, I should regain that vision. I’m not holding my breath, but the possibility is very exciting.
- No more thick glasses. The cataract surgery will replace my clouded lens with an artificial prescription lens which will hopefully correct my extreme nearsightedness. I’ll need magnifiers for computer and reading, but hopefully no more prescription glasses.
When’s this going to happen?
My surgeries are scheduled for August 1 (left eye) and
September 26 (right eye) (8/2/13: right eye surgery moved up to September 5–yea!).
If God opens up an MTI spot for us in August, then the surgery will wait until Ecuador. We’ve been praying that God would show us if we should wait on the surgery, so this might be a way He would do that.
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Update, August 2, 2013: My first surgery went well. My eye is still dilated, so the world is still pretty blurry. It may be four weeks before my vision clears, and I have a whole bunch of eye drops to take! I have much to be thankful for.