Twenty minutes in surgery will make all the difference to the vision and visual comfort of three Australian patients who had cataract surgery followed by the insertion of a CyPass device (Alcon) on Thursday 20 July, to relieve high intraocular pressure (IOP)caused by glaucoma.
The CyPass procedure, which has been performed thousands of times on patients with glaucoma in Europe and America, has until now, never been performed in Australia.
Dr. Nathan Kerr, an ophthalmologist at Eye Surgery Associates and Vermont Private Hospital in Victoria, said he was excited to be charged with performing the Australian first operations. Dr. Kerr recently returned from the United Kingdom where he completed a prestigious fellowship at Moorfields Eye Hospital and trained to insert the CyPass Micro-Stent.
“More than 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, an eye condition that can cause progressive loss of sight and usually entails lifelong use of eye drops to control IOP. These drops can cause redness, stinging, and irritation,” he said.
“Aside from the side effects, many patients are on multiple medications, which are costly; patients may have difficulty remembering to use their drops and have trouble inserting them due to conditions like arthritis,” said Dr Kerr. “The CyPass procedure may free them from this daily burden.”
The CyPass is a tiny 6 mm tube that is inserted inside the eye at the time of cataract surgery to relieve IOP. The device cannot be seen or felt.
“We chose the Cypass because it has a strong evidence behind it for its effectiveness and safety,” Dr. Kerr told mivision.
“Large clinical trials have shown that this procedure is very effective in reducing the need for glaucoma medications – in fact 85 per cent of patients have been able to completely come off their medications following cataract surgery combined with CyPass insertion, which is significantly more than seen with cataract surgery alone.”
Dr. Kerr said the procedure adds just five minutes to cataract surgery and patients are usually able to stop using their glaucoma eye drops within the first week. “The recovery is very fast compared to traditional glaucoma operations and there are no further restrictions beyond those normally associated with cataract surgery,” he said.