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New surgery for Glaucoma

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 3:25pm

The more than three million glaucoma sufferers nationwide now have a less invasive surgical option called canaloplasty for treating their condition and preventing blindness. Ochsner Ophthalmologist Michael Morgan, MD offers this procedure to patients in Baton Rouge and has seen excellent results thus far. "Canaloplasty is a more natural way of treating glaucoma, using the existing anatomy as it is intended to drain the fluid from the eye," says Dr. Morgan.

In canaloplasty the physician creates a tiny incision to gain access to the eye's drainage canal. A microcatheter, similar to those used by cardiologists for angioplasty in the heart, is then inserted into the canal so that it opens the canal as it travels through. A gel-like substance is inserted into the canal and the catheter is removed. A small stitch is then placed within the canal to keep it open so that fluid can flow out, thus keeping the eye pressure at a normal level.

"Canaloplasty drains the eye the way nature intended by using the drainage canal to remove fluid as opposed to the more traditional surgery where a tiny hole is made in the eye to restore fluid flow. While the traditional method certainly works there are risks for scarring and additional surgeries," says Dr. Morgan. In addition to reduced complication risk and scarring, canaloplasty can also reduce the need to continue taking medications, such as eye drops, commonly used in the treatment of glaucoma even after traditional surgery.

Dr. Morgan says canaloplasty is available for patients with open angle glaucoma who have had no previous glaucoma surgery and that recovery time is quick. "Most of my patients are back to their normal lives anywhere from a week to 10 days," says Morgan.

Glaucoma impacts over three million Americans, causing blindness in more than 100,000 people annually. Glaucoma causes the eye's natural drainage system to become blocked, resulting in increased pressure which damages the optic nerve leading to vision loss.

Those at highest risk for glaucoma include:
· Adults over 60
· African-Americans
· People with a family history of glaucoma or diabetes
· People with elevated intraocular pressure

Because glaucoma is a silent condition, regular eye exams are necessary for detecting it before the eye is damaged. A routine glaucoma exam usually consists of a test to measure eye pressure and an exam of the inside of the eye, including the optic nerve. The physician may also perform peripheral vision tests to monitor any vision loss.

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