LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's estimated that 3 million Americans have glaucoma and that number will likely explode as baby boomers get older since Glaucoma is a major reason for blindness as we age.
There is no cure.
Dr. Omar Shoukfeh, an Ophthalmologist and Glaucoma Specialist, compares glaucoma to a faucet. He says "It's making fluid and that fluid is circulating around the eye and draining out of the eye. Glaucoma is an issue with the drain out of the eye. As we age and glaucoma gets worse, the drain gets less efficient and fluid backs up and we get damage."
That damage can be devastating. He says glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
The damage is irreversible and there is no cure.
But there is something new that is giving glaucoma patients more time to prevent further vision loss without major surgery.
It's called MIGS... which stands for Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery.
Dr. Omar Shoukfeh, an Ophthalmologist and Glaucoma Specialist, says much like the stents that revolutionized heart surgery by opening up blocked arteries, new technology has paved the way for tiny stents in the eye.
He explains, "The stents will bring down the pressure and allow for the decrease in the progression of the glaucoma. But the idea is whether you put a stent in your natural drain to make it work again or you open up the drain or you flush the drain out but there are ways to get your drain to wake up again without major surgery or major hardware in the eye."
Dr. Shoukfeh adds the best way to protect against losing your sight to glaucoma is to have regular eye exams... so you can catch it early.... and prevent any further vision loss.
He says, "You can not cure glaucoma. It's not like cataract surgery where you can bring back some of your vision. In glaucoma surgery, you start with a baseline and try to prevent it from getting worse by reducing the pressure."