Cataracts cause clouding of the lens of the eye resulting in glare and blurred vision. Today, thanks to modern medical technology, cataract surgery is one of the most effective cures in all of medicine. We now have the ability to permanently decrease the need for glasses with cataract surgery, which was an impossible dream when I began doing cataract surgery in 1996. Cataract surgery still has unexpected risks like infection, but complications are the rare exception.
Glaucoma is typically caused by increased pressure in the eye and can cause damage to the optic nerve. Cataracts and glaucoma have been historically treated separately using two disparate management strategies. In the past, cataract surgeons performed cataract surgery to manage cataracts, while ophthalmologists who specialize in glaucoma used drops and surgery to manage glaucoma. Now, because of a new procedure, cataracts and glaucoma can be addressed at the same time.
Cataract/iStent is a newly developed combined procedure that is a revolution in the way that patients with both cataracts and glaucoma are treated. This procedure is fundamentally changing the way ophthalmologists treat glaucoma and has a similar safety profile to performing cataract surgery alone. In addition, similar to cataract surgery, the Cataract/iStent procedure is usually covered by standard medical insurance like Medicare and most private insurances.
With the invention of the iStent procedure, glaucoma surgery has entered a new era that offers patients a once in a lifetime chance to have both glaucoma and cataracts addressed at the same time.
After the Cataract/iStent procedure, most patients are able to maintain normal intraocular pressures and have improved vision.
Traditionally, ophthalmologists who specialize in glaucoma have managed glaucoma with either drops or surgery. Of the two options, only surgery for glaucoma guarantees compliance. Drops, unfortunately, leave room for less than perfect compliance (not taking the drops as prescribed). Additionally, surgery is often the most cost-effective option since insurance companies pay for the Cataract/iStent, but patients frequently have to pay for all (or part) of their prescribed eye drops. Because of the above-mentioned factors, Cataract/iStent procedure is a paradigm shift that ensures perfect compliance and a chance for the patients to save some of their hard-earned money.
When SEECA first started offering the new iStent procedure in 2015, I carefully studied the FDA studies and was very impressed. These professionally administered studies showed that 79% of the patients who received Cataract/iStent surgery sustained an intraocular pressure of less than or equal to 21mmHg (which is very good).
Since I am skeptical of new procedures, I sought to verify the results myself on SEECA patients from the Houma/Thibodaux area with our own administered study. The SEECA team closely reviewed 42 consecutive Cataract/iStent surgery cases and documented the average intraocular pressures before Cataract/iStent surgery compared with the average intraocular pressures after Cataract/iStent surgery. The results indicated that the Cataract/iStent surgery decreased the intraocular pressure by an average of 4.23 mmHg, which is great. There were no reported complications related to the Cataract/iStent in any of the study patients. Fortunately, the SEECA team has not experienced any complications related to the iStent for about 3 years, which is amazing.
Cataract/iStent surgery has revolutionized the treatment of glaucoma and cataracts. The FDA studies mentioned above, our own SEECA studies and my personal experience with this technology make this procedure a no-brainer for patients who have glaucoma and need cataract surgery.
Even patients who have mild glaucoma benefit from this procedure because the Cataract/iStent procedure does not increase the risk over routine cataract surgery. Unfortunately, as our patients mature, the risk of glaucoma progression increases.
If our patients develop severe glaucoma in the future, I am always reassured by having the extra protection of the Cataract/iStent procedure, which helps drain the fluid that would otherwise cause increased intraocular pressure.
We are happy to offer this amazing ophthalmic procedure to our patients. Anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of the Cataract/iStent procedure is welcome to make an appointment with SEECA as (985) 853-0900.