MELISSA MAHAN: It’s a degenerative eye disease that affects thousands but there is a new procedure giving new hope for those suffering from glaucoma. ABC 6 reporter Julie Ruditzky has more.
JULIE RUDITZKY: Sixty six year old Barbara Vivieros helps cancer patients cope with losing their hair. She owns a wig shop in Port Smith.
BARBARA: When a patient looks at you and says “you know for the two hours that I was here with you and my friends I forgot I had cancer.” That’s…that’s something.
JULIE RUDITZKY: But Barbara was suffering herself. She was on the verge of going blind.
BARBARA: Everyday was like, is it gonna be today? Am I gonna lose my sight?
JULIE RUDITZKY: A bad case of glaucoma it happens when elevated pressure causes severe optic nerve damage. Daily eye drops help most people but not Barbara.
BARBARA: The drops were horrible because well not only do they cost a lot. I had side effects from just about all of them.
JULIE RUDITZKY: Frustrated she turned to laser surgery. It got worst.
BARBARA: The only thing that kept me going was the fact that a great number of my clients here are cancer patients. And they were fighting for their lives. So I would use them kind of as they soft than I am.
JULIE RUDITZKY: She then turned to a specialist in Boston. Dr. B.J. Shingleton performs a new type of surgery for patients who’ve had unsuccessful results with other treatments.
DR. B.J. SHINGLETON: Canaloplasty is the first time with a micro surgical 30 minute painless technique. We can actually do the surgery in the area were the glaucoma actually occurs and that’s the internal drainage channel of the eye.
JULIE RUDITZKY: Restoring flow reduces the pressure. For Barbara, it worked.
DR. B.J. SHINGLETON: We caught it at early left stage that we think she will do extremely well for the long term.
JULIE RUDITZKY: Barbara is back at work and thankful she can see her clients smile.
BARBARA: How can you thank anybody or how can you say ‘oh this is great, thank you I have my sight back’. There’s not enough words.
JULIE RUDITZKY: The surgery is best for those who’ve already tried eye drops and laser surgery. Canaloplasty does not cure glaucoma but it does help to control it, of course glaucoma does not have any symptoms usually so it’s important to get regular check ups with your eye doctor..