KCAL9: Well, there’s a new treatment now for people with Glaucoma and iIt’s called Canaloplasty. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, reduces the infection and bleeding. With us today, Dr. David Richardson, who’ll explain more about this breakthrough surgery and what it’s all about. Thanks for being with us.
Dr. David Richardson: Well, thank you. Good afternoon.
KCAL9: First of all, what is Glaucoma? What happens in your eye when you have it?
Dr. David Richardson: That’s a very good question. Glaucoma is actually the second leading cause of blindness in the world. But, it’s a silent disease. There are no symptoms until it’s really too late. So, unlike the other two leading causes of blindness — Cataract and Macular Degeneration, it really doesn’t get a lot of awareness. Similar (more like) Diabetes or High Blood pressure where the treatments often are more bothersome than the disease itself until it gets to that end-stage point. Glaucoma is caused by a high pressure in the eye and we feel that the pressure is elevated simply because the drainage system in the eye gets clogged up. So, most of the treatments are really geared toward creating a new drainage system or using medications to either reduce the amount fluid in the eye that’s produced or help that fluid find a way out of the eye. But until recently, there’s been no way to actually just treat the natural drainage system and get it to start working again.
KCAL9: So, that’s where you come in with what’s called Canaloplasty. Is that right?
Dr. David Richardson: That’s right. Canaloplasty is one of a new generation of what we’d call minimally invasive surgeries for the eye. It’s very similar to angioplasty and in fact some have actually called it angioplasty for the eye. What it involves is creating a small flap, just underneath the eyelid on the white part of the eye. So there’s nothing to be seen by the patient. Then, a very small catheter, in fact, it’s the world’s smallest catheter is used to open up that drainage system with a special gel called viscoelastic, and then just like with the angioplasty where stents are left, a suture is used then to stent open the canal, which is again the body’s natural drainage system so there’s no additional pole placed in the eye. You’re really just opening up the drainage system that was there before.
KCAL9: So does this stop the progression of Glaucoma or does it actually help to heal or reverse the symptom?
Dr. David Richardson That’s a very good question. The problem with Glaucoma is that when the damage is done, it’s permanent. And to date, we have no real way to reverse the damage. So it’s absolutely critical that we treat Glaucoma before the vision has been lost. So, of course, in order to do that we have to find which requires the proper screening but up until just recently the only surgical treatment that were available were really withheld until the end stages of Glaucoma when significant vision had already been lost. And the reason for that is that the older style of surgery — Trabeculectomy, shunts or tubes, were simply just too risky to provide for somebody at an earlier stage.
Canaloplasty is now opening up that opportunity to people to allow them to get a long-term treatment, successful surgical treatment at an earlier stage before they’ve lost vision.
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