Tiny implant seeing big impact

IT IS the smallest device ever known to be implanted in the human body.

It looks like nothing more than a splinter, and if you dropped it you would never see it again.

But the iStent is driving a massive improvement in outcomes for patients with mild to moderate glaucoma at the Launceston Eye Institute.

Opthamologist Tze'Yo Toh said he was the first doctor in the state to perform catalys precision laser femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery last month.

Dr Toh said the surgery, done with a surgical microscope and a pre-loaded injector, saw him insert an iStent into the front of the eye.

"What sets this apart is it actually utilises the eye's natural drainage pathway," Dr Toh said.

"So what it does is specifically bypass the area that is thought to be blocked in people with glaucoma."

Dr Toh said the procedure was much safer than the previous treatment for glaucoma - which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide.

"In patients that have a mild to moderate glaucoma we used to just put them on a lot of eye drops, and the problem with the eye drops is they have a lot of side effects and they have to be committed to the drops for life," Dr Toh said.

"With this stent in the eye when they have to have cataract surgery, they might not need to rely on the drops as often as they used to, because studies show that 70 per cent of people can go without drops up to two years."

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