If you have glaucoma that isn't responding well to eye drops and other forms of medication, your eye doctor may suggest that you undergo eye stent surgery by laser to release pressure from around the optic nerve. The surgery is used to place micro-sized implants or stents inside the Schlemm's canal located in front of the eyes, or inside the suprachoroidal space found behind the eyes. The doctor can also place stents in other locations inside the eyes if these areas are compromised by your glaucoma.
If you're confused about how eye stent surgery by laser works and whether it's a better option over conventional eye surgery, keep reading. Here are facts to help you understand more about eye stent surgery.
Why Is Laser Stent Surgery Better Than Conventional Eye Surgery?
Before ophthalmologists developed eye stents to drain excess fluid from the optic nerve, they treated glaucoma pressure with conventional or filtration surgery. Although filtration surgery is very successful in relieving eye pressure, it takes longer to heal afterward.
In order to reach the optic nerve, eye doctors used surgical scalpels to make incisions in the eyes' tissues during filtration surgery. Sometimes, surgeons needed to remove small pieces of eye tissue, such as the sclera, to prevent the incisions from closing up in the future. Because the incisions needed time to heal after surgery, patients experienced long recovery times.
Filtration surgery can also create scarring in the surgical site. The scars can spread to other tissues of the eyes and cause blindness if your eye surgeon or doctor doesn't remove them.
To make glaucoma surgery easier on you, your eye doctor uses laser eye stent surgery. This type of advanced surgery is quicker, easier and less painful than traditional eye surgery.
Lasers produce thin beams of light that cut through tissues. Your eye doctor or surgeon applies a numbing agent in the surgical site prior to using the laser, which makes eye stent surgery relatively painless.
In addition, laser surgery allows ophthalmologists to place stents or drainage implants inside different areas of the eyes without disturbing other tissues. These drainage sites include the Schlemm's canal.
What Is the Most Common Places to Insert Eye Stents?
Eye specialists generally insert eye stents in the Schlemm's canal before trying other locations in the eyes. The canal functions much like the lymphatic tissues in your body. It allows fluids to drain out of the eyes through various ducts and vessels. But glaucoma can affect the canal and keep it from working properly.
If the excess fluids behind your eyes build up, they can block the Schlemm's canal. Your eye doctor will use the laser to create a small opening in the canal. After this step, the doctor inserts a tiny stent. The stent will allow fluids to pass through the canal properly.
The suprachoroidal space is another location your doctor may place your stents. The space sits near the optic nerve, which is where most of the pressure in your eyes is found. Because the suprachoroidal space empties into the drainage system of the eyes, it's the perfect location for your eye stents.
Are Eye Stents Safe for Your Eyes?
One of the most important features of eye stents is their ability to safely blend or bond with your eyes' tissues and cells. Most eye stents are made with nitinol, which is one of the most advanced synthetic materials used in stent or implant fabrication today.
Medical manufacturers make nitinol with a special metal alloy that bends or flexes easily around body tissues, such as the Schlemm's canal. Although nitinol is new on the market, it can improve the condition of your eyes after placement.
If you want to learn more about eye stent surgery, make an appointment with your eye surgeon or doctor today. You can find relief for your glaucoma with the right treatment.
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