Canaloplasty – A Surgical Alternative For Glaucoma

Our eyesight is precious to us. Every day we rely on seeing the very things we take for granted.

Our language is littered with expressions like; “Look over there”, “Did you see that”, “In our field of vision” and similar expressions related to seeing.

The rise in eye pressure or intraocular eye pressure (IOP), puts pressure on the optic nerve at the back of the eye. This pressure on the optic nerve increases the likelihood of permanent damage to this vital nerve. When this occurs our peripheral vision is reduced – permanently. We see less and less around the edge of our area of vision, ultimately leading to a condition called tunnel vision and in severe cases blindness. It is because of this gradual decline in our vision that glaucoma is often referred to as the silent thief.

Traditionally, glaucoma has been treated with medications usually, in the form of eye drops. Do you forget doses? Do you find applying eye drops fiddly? Frustrated, with the on-going cost of these medications? With the advances in micro surgery, there are now viable surgical alternatives, which may reduce the need for eye drops and in many cases eliminate the need for eye drops altogether.

The usual method of surgery to lower eye pressure is trabeculectomy. This creates a hole in the sclera to let the aqueous fluid drain into the outer cyst or bleb. Trabeculectomy is still the surgical standard, but there are risks of complications such as infection, leakage, and irritation.

Another surgical option is Canaloplasty. This utilises a very small tube placed in the Canal of Schlemm (a small channel around the iris for draining eye-fluid or aqueous humor) to enlarge the drainage canal, allowing the fluid to drain more freely, thereby relieving pressure inside the eye. This has been a successful method of reducing the eye pressure causing glaucoma.

Canaloplasty is a valuable minimally invasive surgical option in patients with open angle glaucoma, particularly in patients at high risk from infection or bleeding.

Canaloplasty is a safe and new procedure taking advantage of the normal drainage system of the eye to safely treat increased pressure in people with glaucoma. A tiny incision is made to gain access to the eye. A microcatheter is inserted into the canal to enlarge the main drainage channel by injecting a sterile gel-like material called viscoelastic.

After the drainage channel is made larger, the microcatheter is removed and a suture is placed within the canal and tightened to make sure that it stays open. By opening the canal, it will drain correctly, and the pressure inside the eye will be relieved.

Some points to remember about Canaloplasty

* Can safely lower eye pressure (IOP) by up to 40%

* Reduces or eliminates the need for eye-drops

* Less risk of complications after surgery

* Glaucoma now under control.

Only your doctor can decide if canaloplasty is right for you – talk to your doctor.

Imagine waking up in the morning and not having to puts drops into your eyes or like me having to remember to apply eye drops three times a day. Memory is such a fickle thing with age!