Morristown Man Battling Glaucoma Implanted Microscopic Stents to Prevent Blindness
Glaucoma impacts about 3 million Americans and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.
As of today, most would say there is no cure for glaucoma, however, through early diagnosis and treatment, the disease can be controlled before vision loss or blindness occurs.
Today we take a look at this disease and the impacts it has on one of our fellow Morristown residents, who we will call Bill W.
“I was diagnosed with glaucoma 15 years ago at the age of 51. My diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise to me, since both my brother and father had the condition. Open-angle glaucoma is hereditary, so if an immediate family member has glaucoma, I knew there was a greater risk of developing the condition. My father lost some vision from glaucoma and my brother had terrible eyesight in one of his eyes from the condition. Because of this, I saw how vision loss impacted their quality of life and wanted to do everything I could to preserve my quality of vision – this included regular trips to the eye doctor, which is how my glaucoma was detected.” – Bill W., 66, of Morristown, NJ
Bill W., a 66-year-old Morristown resident battling glaucoma, had watched both his father and brother lose their vision from the same condition.
Bill knew that his glaucoma would impact all the things he loves to do most, such as playing golf, basketball, and tennis. However, as the former CEO of a medical device company, Bill knew there were treatment options.
“I wanted to find an ophthalmologist that specializes in glaucoma, so I sought out and made an appointment with Dr. Albert Khouri of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. After checking my eye pressure and running some tests, Dr. Khouri recommended that I be treated with iStent inject® W in my right eye during cataract surgery. Before retiring, I had been president and CEO of several major companies specializing in cardiovascular and ophthalmic medical devices, so I am familiar with stents and how they work in the human body. With my first-hand knowledge of how medical devices can improve people’s quality of life and my trust in Dr. Khouri, I felt confident that iStent inject® W was the right treatment for me.” – Bill W.
Thankfully, being near Rutgers, Bill had access to iStent inject W, one of the smallest medical devices known to be implanted in the human body that, according to Bill’s doctor, Dr. Khouri, is preventing the further deterioration of vision as a result of glaucoma.
This FDA-approved treatment is only 360 micrometers long (for reference, a penny is nearly 20,000 micrometers long in diameter). After implanting the iStent inject W during cataract surgery, Bill is no longer worried about missing out on all his favorite activities and is relieved to enjoy his retirement once again.
“Since being treated, I have been able to eliminate drops in my right eye. I’ve also been able to continue playing basketball, tennis, and golf without issue. One of my greatest concerns was that my glaucoma could impact my eyesight to the point that I could not participate in my favorite hobbies, but I’m glad this is not the case.” – Bill W.
Bill now strives to spread awareness of glaucoma, the importance of early detection, and the treatment and prevention options available. As Bill knows firsthand, your eyesight can directly impact your quality of life.
“Glaucoma is also known as the “silent thief” of sight. There are often no symptoms, so glaucoma can go undiagnosed without proper check-ups and can get worse over time. Then, once someone does develop symptoms, they cannot be reversed. I hope that sharing my story will help spread awareness of the importance of early detection and treatment to those who are unfamiliar with the condition and its irreversible effects.” – Bill W.
From Bill’s Doctor, Dr. Khouri:
What should people know to help identify glaucoma before it becomes a larger problem?
People should know that glaucoma was historically known as the “thief of eyesight” for a good reason. It causes no pain and is very stealthy. Because the damage to the vision is slow and progressive, most patients would not notice the loss until it is at an advanced stage. That is why the recommendation by many scientific societies is to have annual examinations after the age of 45. In higher-risk groups like African-Americans or Latinos or families with a known family history of glaucoma, it may be better to have these routine screening evaluations with the medical doctor at an even earlier age.
Can you explain, in as simple terms as possible, how this iStent inject W works?
In glaucoma, the main problem is the drainage system is diseased (clogged) and the eye pressure rises. iStent inject W works by bypassing the diseased tissue in order to allow the fluid inside the eye to access the natural drainage system and as such lowers eye pressure. Lowering eye pressure is the goal of glaucoma treatments.
Who is eligible for this treatment?
Patients with glaucoma who are undergoing cataract surgery are eligible. The majority of patients with glaucoma and cataracts typically have mild to moderate disease and are the best candidates for iStent inject W.
Any risks involved?
Any surgery involves risk. The spectrum of risks varies among the different surgeries performed for glaucoma. The iStent’s strongest advantage is its safety. There are many studies that specifically looked into the safety of IStent technology. It is considered one of the safest glaucoma procedures and the risk factors are similar to that of cataract surgery alone.
Why do you want to tell this story?
So many patients with glaucoma present after they have lost vision and very little can be done to help them. Unfortunately, I see patients referred to me at the university with bad glaucoma every day. Raising awareness about glaucoma is very important because early intervention can help save vision. The good news is that glaucoma is at the forefront of research with ongoing projects across the country, including Rutgers, that will advance our treatments for glaucoma. We have so much innovation in glaucoma therapy, with newer medications and surgeries that are safer and more effective.
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