Eye Center of Texas Blog

Glaucoma & Cataract Surgery: The iStent Procedure

Ready for some good news? If you’re considering having glaucoma and cataract surgery done together, you may now be able to take advantage of the innovative iStent eye surgery. For many, the iStent eye surgery has reduced both their intraocular pressure and their use of (sometimes expensive) medicated eye drops. To make a good deal better, iStent eye surgery is typically covered by insurance.

Understanding glaucoma and cataract surgery

If you have both cataracts and glaucoma, you may have wondered: Can you have cataract surgery if you have glaucoma? The answer, we’re happy to report, is yes. In fact, undergoing glaucoma and cataract surgery together can be extremely advantageous.

Before considering this dual procedure, however, it’s important to understand exactly what glaucoma and cataracts are, how to determine if you have glaucoma and/or cataracts, and whether you’re eligible for surgery.

Cataracts and cataract surgery

A cataract is the clouding of your eye lens in one or both eyes which causes your vision to become blurry. Naturally occurring, cataracts typically develop as a result of aging. At first, cataracts may not be very noticeable, but they can become larger over time. Symptoms include:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Seeing double
  • Colors appearing faded
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Seeing halos around lights

Your doctor may recommend cataract surgery–the removal of the clouded lens and replacement with a clear, artificial lens–if cataracts are affecting your quality of life.

If you’re just learning about cataracts, we encourage you to conduct research on how to prevent cataracts, to ask is cataract surgery safe, and explore your options for cataract surgery in Houston.

Glaucoma and iStent eye surgery

Sometimes, patients may experience multiple eye conditions at the same time, including glaucoma. This can bring the need for both glaucoma and cataract surgery. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve caused by a blocked drainage passage in the eye. This block creates a buildup of fluid in the eye, which in turn causes a rise in intraocular pressure. Continuous intraocular pressure can damage your optic nerve which, over time, will cause loss of peripheral vision, and eventually all your vision.

Because glaucoma has no early symptoms it’s often only when a patient begins to lose their vision that their glaucoma is discovered. Unfortunately, the damage caused by glaucoma is permanent, but once caught, the disease is treatable. It’s important to get your eyes checked regularly–search for “glaucoma test near me” to find an ophthalmologist in your area.

Since both glaucoma and cataracts cause loss of vision, we are often asked: “do cataracts cause glaucoma?” Fortunately, no. They are separate problems and receive separate treatments. Glaucoma can be treated with lasers (for more info, check out our FAQ on the laser procedure for glaucoma post) or, more recently, via the iStent eye surgery.

iStent eye surgery: what is the iStent?

The iStent medical implant was approved by the FDA in 2012 and plays an important role in successful glaucoma and cataract surgery. It is a surgical titanium micro-bypass stent that’s preloaded into a sterile inserter, which helps eye surgeon implant the iStent with precision. The iStent is the world’s smallest implant, but its effects can be huge: once implanted, the device can help restore normal pressure in the eye.

iStent eye surgery: how is the iStent eye surgery performed?

If you have both cataracts and glaucoma, you can decide to have your cataract and iStent eye surgery done together. Both procedures are typically performed with local anesthesia, are outpatient procedures (you get home the same day of your surgery), and have quick recovery times.

During the procedure, the surgeon will remove your cataracts first. Once these are removed, they will implant the iStent using the sterile inserter. Once implanted in the eye, the device can help restore normal pressure in the eye. In fact, you won’t notice the implant.

Recovery after these surgeries is quick (instant iStent, shall we say?). You will likely receive antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops and will need to avoid strenuous work for several days.

Get iStent results at Eye Center of Texas

After your iStent eye surgery, most people report the following results that their eye is able to drain fluid naturally and their intraocular pressure returns to normal levels. Some individuals have reported no further need for their former glaucoma eye drops post-surgery.

Glaucoma and cataract surgery can be better together for your vision. The team at Eye Center of Texas is trusted by over 275 Houston area doctors and has performed thousands of successful eye procedures. If you’re considering cataract, glaucoma laser surgery, or iStent eye surgery, schedule an appointment at Eye Center of Texas today.

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