Microstent Surgery for Glaucoma: Benefits and Questions

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Over the past decade, so-called minimally invasive glaucoma surgery has been gaining popularity. There is no specific definition for “minimally invasive,” but it typically means surgery that causes less trauma to healthy tissue, takes a shorter time to perform, and speeds postoperative recovery. In the case of glaucoma surgery, one of the latest advances is the use of new microstents, made of a variety of materials, that are designed to treat mild or moderate glaucoma.

Although microstents lower intraocular pressure (IOP) the same way conventional devices do (by helping to drain fluid from the eye), they may offer advantages in being easier to implant. Microstents approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or under investigation include the iStent, CyPass Micro-Stent, and Hydrus Microstent, among others.

The development of new options for managing IOP is good news, of course. But with so many microstents becoming available, ophthalmologists are still trying to assess their relative benefits and long-term effectiveness. The journal Ophthalmology Therapy reports that although preliminary findings suggest that some of the new devices may speed surgical and recovery time, as well as cut costs, there are virtually no data comparing one microstent with another.

When it comes to glaucoma surgery, what’s most important is finding a surgeon with experience in performing a procedure that he or she considers most effective.