A new surgical eye procedure involving the use of the world’s smallest medical devices is currently available at the Cayman Islands Hospital, and doctors there believe it will give patients greater clarity, with reduced risks.
It’s called the Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, or MIGS, and involves doctors placing a set of iStent devices along the inner wall of the eye to reduce a buildup of fluids that cause increased pressure in the eye.
The iStent is the 1mm long, and has an opening of 120 microns, or about 0.12mm. It was approved for use back in 2016 by the US Food and Drug Administration, and since then has again popularity among ophthalmologists, the world over.
One such ophthalmologist is Dr. Ermanno Scerrati, who has performed more than 200 MIGS procedures to date.
“So far, I have performed four operations in Cayman,” said Scerrati, who is a consultant ophthalmologist for the Lions Eye Clinic at the HSA.
Scerrati is originally from Italy and has practised medicine in the UK as well.
He said the development of the MIGS procedure has helped to reduce the risks patients would have previously encountered.
Prior to the advent of the MIGS procedures, ophthalmologists would perform trabeculectomy, which is a surgery that involved cutting out a part of the patient’s eye to relieve the pressure caused by fluid build-up. However, Scerrati said trabeculectomy, which has a 70% success rate, has a high chance of complications even if the surgery is successful.
Of the patients who visit the Lions Eye Clinic, 40% have glaucoma.
Resident ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Corkin has been with the clinic for several years. He said, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MIGS procedure is very timely, as it will decrease the number of people who would have to travel off island to treat their glaucoma.
“The pandemic is going to have enormous impacts on the ability of people to travel for whatever reason, and it is nice to have several arrows in your bag to help try and manage glaucoma problems without having to transfer them elsewhere,” said Corkin.
There is no cure for glaucoma, and patients are often placed on a variety of medications to help manage the symptoms. However, Corkin said, in some cases the procedure has been able to help patients come off the medication.
“Now we actually got a credible solution, that we can manage our glaucoma patients better than we could before, which will hopefully not only control the pressure but allow them to become less dependent on their medication,” he said.