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Updated on May 8, 2013


My father in law who is over 90 visits the NHS Hospital Opthamology Department every six months. A stroke 4 years ago took the sight of one eye and cataracts have been identified in the other with Glaucoma also being monitored. Because of his great age, monitoring is the best for him at this stage but it is thought that at some point treatment will have to be done.

Currently, the advances in treating both cataracts and glaucoma have made big and beneficial strides and have removed the genuine fear of total blindness that beset earlier generations. Glaucoma treatment however is still a difficult task and involves an operation lasting at least an hour, which, for patients such as my father in law would be a big ordeal at best. The operation requires cutting the eye under a general anaesthetic which, would be virtually impossible for him to withstand.

Glaucoma we learn , is a result of fluid produced in the eye not draining away and thus building up. The result is that without the knowledge of the sufferer, pressure builds up and affects the optic nerve situated at the rear of the eye. This, in turn, affects the signals transmitted by the nerve to the brain and eventually vision deteriorates. Initially peripheral vision is affected but many do not realise this and the process continues unchecked until permanent and more extensive damage is done. Those receiving monitoring are often prescribed drops to assist in pressure lowering but for most, surgery is required eventually.

Traditional surgery involves a hole being cut in the eye to provide a drainage channel to allow the fluid to disperse. Now, the new treatment seeks to clear the drainage problem itself. To do this, a procedure to unblock the membrane is undertaken. Once completed, fluid is again able to drain naturally away into the SCHLEMM"S Canal. This is located at the front of the eye, below and in front of the lens. This is where the new treatment takes place.


To effect the treatment, a long thin tip of equipment resembling a wand isused. The wand is electrically charged and as a result the surgeon is able to burn off the parts of the membane network that have been damaged. Once destroyed the path to the canal is again freed to allow normal drainage and no excess pressure on the optic nerve once more. At the same time, the wand effectively removes by sucking up, any debris left behind.

As a result there is no scar tissue as happens with the former treatment, and so no further build ups requiring more treatments down the line.Thus, less further appointments are required. This is a double bonus as not inly does the treatment take only 15 minutes to complete, less follow up appointments free up Hospital time. This means excellent efficiency and big savings of NHS resources.



There can be little to prevent this as it is a cost saver and also multi-effective as the surgeon can , whilst dealing with glaucoma , also remove cataracts simultaneously. Most patients, like my father in law are 70 plus and thus the double effectiveness is a boon to them.

The benefits of this advance are very clear and those who have had the treatment are very happy with the way things have panned out for them . They speak of having gained from the treatment being quicker with less pain and subsequently less follow up appointments. Based on these facts it seems as if this really is treatment with a wave of the magic wand and well worth pursuing by those who have glaucoma problems or have, like us, relatives in need of tratment.


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