A Preston woman is the first in the UK to try a new treatment aiming to combat glaucoma.Advertisement
Affecting around 70 million people worldwide, eye condition glaucoma causes a build-up of fluid leading to high pressure in the eye and can damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss.
Bernie, 73, from Preston, is one of three patients at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH) to test a new fully adjustable surgical implant to drain excess eye fluid caused by glaucoma.
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EyeWatch is the first ever glaucoma device that allows post-operative flow adjustment in clinic.
This innovative mechanism reduces the risk of under and over-drainage that can occur with current drainage devices, reducing potential side effects or further surgery.
Manufactured by Rheon Medical, the device includes an implant which is inserted through the skin at the front of the eye, into the white, and is completely covered to stay out of sight.
It’s connected to a drainage tube which filters excess fluid into the back of the eye where it’s reabsorbed.
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A built-in, magnetically controlled flow mechanism allows surgeons to open or close the device, based on the eye pressure, using a special magnetic pen.
Bernie, from Preston, was diagnosed with glaucoma in her late 50s, and has since had to take daily eye drops to reduce pressure in her eyes. She said:
“I decided to take part in this study as I felt this technology could benefit my life. My eyes didn’t react well to the eye drops I was prescribed to regulate the pressure. This left me with swollen and itchy eyes.
“It’s fantastic to know that my eye pressure can be controlled without having to undergo further surgery. There is no longer a ‘wait and see’ approach to the management of my glaucoma and my consultant can easily help to reduce any fluctuations in pressure with the help of the new eyeWatch technology.
“Taking part in research has given me a new lease of life.”
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Consultant ophthalmic surgeon at MREH, Mr Leon Au, is leading the Manchester eyeWatch study.
He said: “Using the eyeWatch magnetic pen, we can easily change the opening and closing of the drainage device without any additional invasive surgery, until the eye pressure stabilises. This is usually around three months after surgery, at which point the rate of fluid flowing through the drain can be fixed, as it would be with any other GDD.
“We’ve been involved in the research of many novel fixed flow devices especially for the treatment of mild and moderate glaucoma. However, with the eyeWatch I’m excited to see for the first time a drainage device that’s easy to adjust and aims to tackle advanced glaucoma.”
The 18-month study will test the eyeWatch in the treatment of advanced glaucoma, which has not responded to previous surgery.
Patients will be checked regularly after their surgery and followed up after six and 12 months.
Take part in the Manchester trial will be 15 glaucoma patients.
Chief Operating Officer at Rheon Medical, Adan Villamarin said: “We’re delighted to bring eyeWatch technology to patients in the UK and to be working with researchers at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. Our aim in developing this technology is to offer a less invasive treatment pathway for people living with advanced glaucoma.
“Current surgical treatment aims to reduce pressure build-up but does not allow for subsequent control of pressure, meaning a patient may require further operations. The eyeWatch system allows for simple and accurate control of intraocular pressure, providing an alternative clinical treatment pathway which we hope in time can be developed for all types of glaucoma.”
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