Gold used in new eye surgery

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POSTED: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 8:04am

The price of gold is going up but a clinical trial shows it may be worth it for some people with vision problems. Yale glaucoma surgeon Nils Loewen checks on his patient Ron Kortsep. Ron recently had one of these inserted into his eye. It's called a shunt made of gold! It's to prevent glaucoma from stealing his eyesight.

Patient Ron Kortsep says "my left eye was getting weaker, I was losing vision, peripheral vision which glaucoma tends to do, the glaucoma was getting more aggressive so we're trying some different things to bring the pressure down."

Losing his eyesight would be devastating for ron who loves to travel the world and see the sights. Dr. Loewen is the first physician in the U.S. to insert a gold shunt into a patient's eye. It's part of a trial. The device reduces eye pressure by helping it drain properly.

Nils Loewen, a glaucoma and cataract surgeon, says "it all happens at the front part of the eye where the big surgeries with the drainage implants are at the very back, even back past the equator in some cases."

The procedure is already approved in other countries. In this picture you can make out the tiny shunt at the bottom of the eye.

You can see it on my finger, the shunt is made of gold and gold is really expensive so you must be thinking these must be costly. Well they're actually only "worth" pennies apiece, but they do cost a lot because of the price oof research and development to create them.

So you may be wondering why gold? It isn't like a bar of gold, it's highly purified. Scientists take out all of the copper and the body does not reject it. Dr. Loewen says this shunt could become the gold standard if approved for glaucoma patients, because results are promising and it's less invasive.

Nils Loewen "with these smaller incisions less wound area, equals a quiet eye, equals a comfortable eye."
 

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