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Trinity First N.D. Eye Center To Offer iStent for Glaucoma/Cataract Patients

Date:  May 14th, 2013

Contact/Phone:  Mary Muhlbradt
Fax: (701)857-5683

e-mail:   Mary Muhlbradt

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(MINOT)—“Time will tell,” glaucoma patient Nick Bachmeier, Rugby, said, reflecting on what the long-term success of his newly implanted iStent might be, say, a year from now. But he added, “It's looking good so far. I had a stent put in my left eye about a month ago. The pressure is down to 11.” It had been as high as 56.

Eye surgeons at Trinity Regional EyeCare — Minot Center are among a select group of doctors nationwide approved to perform a new breakthrough treatment for glaucoma patients who also have cataracts.

Medical director and ophthalmologist Darrell Williams, MD, said he and his colleagues are among just 150 eye surgeons nationwide, and the only center in North Dakota, authorized to use a device called the iStent Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent® or iStent.

Ophthalmologist Chad Wolsky, MD, described the iStent as a microscopic tube – just one millimeter in size – that's designed to be inserted into the eye during cataract surgery as a treatment for glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

“Glaucoma is a disease associated with increased fluid pressure in the eye,” Dr. Wolsky explained. “The iStent acts
like a tiny snorkel to help the fluid drain properly to reduce the fluid pressure and protect the optic nerve. I see this as a real game changer for glaucoma patients; instead of having to wait until later in the disease process to intervene effectively, we'll be able to act earlier and reduce the chance of vision loss.”

Dr. Wolsky says the iStent is designed for people with mild to moderate cases of the most common form of glaucoma, called “open-angle” glaucoma. In a healthy eye, clear fluid flows continuously in and out of the eye through the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm's canal. In open-angle glaucoma, this meshwork becomes blocked or drains too slowly, allowing pressure to build up inside the eye and potentially rising to a level that does damage to the optic nerve.

Traditional treatments have consisted of prescription eye drops that often have to be administered multiple times daily. “The medications can be expensive and difficult to administer,” Dr. Wolsky said. “Some patients are on two or three medications at a cost of $100 to $300 per month.  This can be a hurdle, especially for older patients. With iStent, many of our patients will need less medicine to control their eye pressure and some may not need any drops at all.”

Dr. Williams says Trinity Regional Eyecare has been anticipating the iStent's release for some time and is excited that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it last year as a treatment to be performed in conjunction with cataract surgery.

“This is great news for people with both a cataract and glaucoma,” Dr. Williams said. “The iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA. It's so small that patients won't even feel it or see it, but it will be working inside the eye to help reduce their eye pressure. We're proud to be among a limited number of providers around the country able to offer this to our

According to Dr. Williams, about 20 percent of glaucoma patients develop cataracts that have to be removed, which means a significant number of
glaucoma patients stand to benefit from this new treatment. Dr. Wolsky adds that Glaukos Corporation, the maker of iStent, is working on a second generation of the device that is seven times smaller than the first generation. For more information about the company's groundbreaking glaucoma treatments, log on to

Trinity Regional Eyecare is the leading eye care network for northwest North Dakota and eastern Montana, with clinics in Minot and Williston
and outreach services in Kenmare, Bottineau, Garrison, Rolla and Devils Lake. Comprised of ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, technicians and support staff, the TRE network has been recognized for clinical and surgical excellence, with state-of-the-art treatments for cataract, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration. It's also the region's referral center for vitreoretinal surgery and laser vision services, such as i LASIK, Intralase and PRK. Trinity Regional Eyecare — Minot Center is located in Trinity's Plaza 16, 2815 16th Street SW in Minot.

For information about glaucoma evaluation and treatment, call (701) TLC-EYES (852-3937) or toll free at 1-888-TLC-EYES. SPACE index.php