Glaucoma procedure now available at Mayo Clinic aims to prevent further eye damage

June 25, 2008

For the first time in Florida, patients with glaucoma have a new treatment option known as the Trabectome. The minimally invasive procedure, which is available at Mayo Clinic and takes about 20 minutes, is designed to decrease pressure within the eye and stabilize the vision.

"The goal of this procedure is to prevent further damage within the eye," says ophthalmologist Rajesh Shetty, M.D. He says that some patients have been able to reduce or eliminate use of daily eye drop medications that regulate intraocular pressure.

Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness, is a disease that causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve from increasing pressure within the eye. This occurs because the eye produces a clear fluid that does not drain adequately and raises the eye pressure. The first sign of glaucoma is a loss of peripheral vision that is usually not noticed by the patient until it affects the central vision. Unfortunately, vision lost to glaucoma can't be restored so treatment aims to reduce eye pressure to prevent further damage.

Traditionally, ophthalmologists first prescribe eye drops to reduce the eye pressure, and if that doesn't work, they can perform a laser procedure (trabeculoplasty) to the existing internal drainage canal around the base of the cornea. A more invasive treatment is trabeculectomy, a surgical technique to create a new drain for the eye.

The Trabectome procedure uses a small probe that opens the eye's drainage system through a tiny incision in the eye's cornea. "It removes a small portion of the eye's natural drainage system so that it functions better," says Dr. Shetty. He says it should be used when eye drops and laser trabeculoplasty fail to reduce pressure and before trabeculectomy is considered. "I see this as another rung in the ladder of treatment for glaucoma," he says.

So far, more than a dozen patients have had the procedure at Mayo Clinic in Florida, although the technique has been available at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a few years. To date, several thousand procedures have been done nationwide, according to Dr. Shetty.

The procedure requires very little sedation and patients generally recover within a week. "We have been pleased with the results," he says, noting that although lost vision cannot be restored with the procedure, some patients have reported improved vision overall after surgery.

An estimated 4 million Americans are affected by glaucoma. Glaucoma screenings are suggested for anyone over 40 every two to four years. A routine exam can help identify risk for glaucoma and early signs of the disease. Risk factors for glaucoma include: a family history of the disease, African or Hispanic ancestry, diabetes, certain rare eye diseases and having had an eye injury or having used any corticosteroid preparation for a prolonged period.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Explore further: World's largest clinical specialty database yields critical insights

Related Stories

World's largest clinical specialty database yields critical insights

November 13, 2017
The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced key milestones and clinical insights from studies powered by its clinical database. The IRIS Registry (Intelligent Research In Sight) has amassed more than 41.2 million ...

Vision technology: Blind woman seeing spots of light sends rays of hope to scientists

November 5, 2016
A person is able to perceive and localize individual phosphenes or spots of light...well, big deal. Meaning, no big deal for those who see.

Ultra-small drainage device may replace eye drop medications for some glaucoma patients

November 13, 2012
A tiny medical device no larger than an eyelash may significantly reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients and allow some to stop using eye-drop medications, according to year-one clinical trial results for the device. Results ...

Researcher explores best treatments for glaucoma

November 17, 2016
Researchers at Queen's University Belfast together with University of St Andrews and Aberdeen have found that the procedure used to remove cataracts is more successful than current standard treatments with laser in treating ...

As glaucoma cases soar, researchers focus on solutions

March 12, 2015
Ernest Murry saw glaucoma steal his mother's vision, just as it had robbed sight from many other family members. There was a time when it seemed the same might happen to him. "When I went outside to walk, I would have to ...

Glaucoma can affect babies, too

July 2, 2014
(HealthDay)—When Olivia Goree noticed something just "wasn't right" about her 6-week-old son's eyes, she trusted her instincts and took him to the doctor. What she never expected was the diagnosis: glaucoma.

Recommended for you

Sensor-equipped pill raises technological, ethical questions

November 17, 2017
The first drug with a sensor embedded in a pill that alerts doctors when patients have taken their medications was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, raiding issues involving privacy, cost, and whether patients ...

New painkillers reduce overdose risk

November 16, 2017
Scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed new opioid pain relievers that reduce pain on par with morphine but do not slow or stop breathing—the cause of opiate overdose.

Separating side effects could hold key for safer opioids

November 16, 2017
Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these ...

US regulators approve first digital pill to track patients

November 14, 2017
U.S. regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken, offering a new way of monitoring patients but also raising privacy concerns.

Introduction is different, but top medications for opioid addiction equally effective

November 14, 2017
With opioid addiction officially declared a public health emergency in the U.S., medical intervention to treat the illness is increasingly important in responding to the epidemic. Now, a new study concludes that two of the ...

Drugstore pain pills as effective as opioids in ER patients

November 7, 2017
Emergency rooms are where many patients are first introduced to powerful opioid painkillers, but what if doctors offered over-the-counter pills instead? A new study tested that approach on patients with broken bones and sprains ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.