Good things now come in very, very small packages

Introducing our innovative iStent treatment

At Southern Eye Specialists we now offer the revolutionary iStent technology – an extremely small implant procedure that can take place during cataract surgery to help reduce glaucoma conditions.

We introduced the procedure late in 2019, with Dr John Rawstron using the iStent implant in his work treating glaucoma patients.

While this work has been disrupted somewhat by the challenges of a Covid-disrupted year we’re now finding the treatment has become more popular. As a consequence, we’re also receiving more questions about the process. So we went to Dr Rawstron with to get the big and (very) small about iStent…

Who is helped by the iStent?

“The operation can be very helpful for those with mild-to-moderate open-angle glaucoma, particularly if there are ongoing issues with intraocular pressure that may not be helped by the current medication in use. Generally the iStent procedure will be combined with cataract surgery.”

Why does it help and how does it all work?

“The greatest risk factor for developing glaucoma is intraocular pressure. This will occur when blockages in the eye cause fluid to build up, causing eye pressure and potentially leading to permanent vision loss. Essentially a tiny tube is inserted to act as a permanent conduit in the drainage channel of the eye. In doing this we effectively help the eye bypass the established blockage, draining fluid and reducing eye pressure. To achieve this we’ll generally be implanting two iStents in each eye.”

Ok, now for those concerned with something being implanted in their eye – just how small is the iStent?

“It’s very, very small! At only one millimetre long nobody who has had the procedure has ever seen or felt it post-operation. It’s actually the world’s smallest medical device used in the human body – it’s close to being invisible!” 

How safe is it the implant?

“As it’s made out of surgical-grade titanium it’s absolutely safe to have in the body without fear of rejection. It’s also safe for an MRI scan and traveling is stress-free too – it won’t set off airport scanners.”

How long does the surgery take – is it complicated?

“No, it’s not complicated – everything’s fairly straightforward but, obviously, there is still a level of expertise needed when you’re dealing with any implant on this scale. The entire operation takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes using numbing eye drops and a local anesthetic. There’s minimal discomfort and the patient only needs to be at Southern Eye for the day.”

What exactly happens during the procedure?

“First we make a small cut in the cornea. We then open a very small space using viscoelastic – a jelly type of substance. This allows us the room in the space between the iris and the cornea’s inner surface to place the iStent. From there I need to remove the viscoelastic and the special applicator used in the treatment and the operation is concluded.”