By Rajesh K. Shetty, M.D.
Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma. The prevalence of the disease has been on the rise for the last two decades, a rise that will continue in our aging population. As a glaucoma specialist, I feel fortunate to be practicing during a time when our treatment options have advanced tremendously. The days of having to delay invasive surgery while patients suffer from discomfort are moving behind us.
At Florida Eye Specialists, our passion for treating patients is what drives us to adopt the newest technology and treatment options to achieve the best outcomes. That’s why, when the FDA recently approved a new usage for the XEN® Gel Stent to treat glaucoma patients, we were one of the first practices to offer this innovative treatment.
What is the XEN Gel Stent?
Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, which is technically a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve. In the past, we’ve had to put off surgery and try to control intraocular pressure (IOP) with eye drops and multiple oral medications and treatments. Our treatment options advanced with the advent of micro invasive glaucoma surgeries (MIGS), which allow intervention for patients in earlier stages of glaucoma. However, the newest treatment for glaucoma, the XEN Gel Stent, allows us to treat patients with moderate to severe glaucoma, with less risk and much faster recovery time than the traditional trabeculectomy or tube shunt.
The XEN Gel Stent is a small implant, the size of an eyelash. Soft and easy to insert, it is injected right beneath the surface of the eye, shunting fluid directly to the subconjunctival space and ultimately relieving pressure. At Florida Eye Specialists, our glaucoma doctors’ long history of treating patients with the latest technology has allowed us to quickly adopt the XEN and realize improved results for our patients.
How the XEN Gel Stent Benefits Glaucoma Treatment
The eyes are incredibly delicate and intricate organs—this is one of the many reasons I became an ophthalmologist. That’s why treating them, and diseases such as glaucoma, must be done with equal care and intricacy. Previously, we treated glaucoma by creating a drainage system for fluid to be redirected from inside to outside of the eye. At that time, we used a sophisticated network of flaps and stitches that could take weeks to heal properly.
With the XEN Gel Stent, the procedure takes only 10 to 15 minutes. It’s minimally invasive with the injection of a tiny tube, and is self-healing, so it doesn’t require any stitches. This dramatically reduces recovery time for patients, with many patients returning to normal activity the next day.
Our glaucoma surgeons’ innovative technique of implanting the XEN Gel Stent has resulted in low pressures similar to traditional trabeculectomies, but with drastically improved postoperative results. Visual recovery is faster, outcomes are predictable, and post-operative visits and medications are reduced.
Is the XEN Gel Stent Right for My Glaucoma Surgery?
Performing surgery with the XEN Gel Stent is a huge advancement for glaucoma specialists and their patients. At Florida Eye Specialists, we are relentless at pursuing the best treatments for our patients so they can get back to life. The XEN Gel Stent is designed to stay in the eye permanently. After the procedure, the stent should start working to help reduce your eye pressure. If you have open-angle glaucoma and previous medications or surgery have not worked to help lower your eye pressure, this could be the right option to help preserve your sight. Our glaucoma specialists have already performed many of these procedures, and they will assess your individual health and find the right treatment for you.
The XEN Gel Stent is minimally invasive, requires little recovery time, and is proven to reduce eye pain and vision loss. If you suffer from glaucoma or have started to experience any glaucoma symptoms, schedule an appointment today with Florida Eye Specialists. Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and discuss all your options for glaucoma treatment.
Rajesh K. Shetty, M.D., is a board-certified, double fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in cataract and glaucoma surgeries. Dr. Shetty is currently the CEO and Managing Partner of Florida Eye Specialists and the surgery center. To learn more about Dr. Shetty, click here.