If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, getting an eye stent can be an effective way to treat the problem and save your vision. Eye stents automatically alleviate pressure in the eye by draining excess fluid, which can be very beneficial for people who don't want to deal with or can't tolerate the eye medications typically used to treat glaucoma. Like any other medical device, however, complications can arise with use. Here are a few you should be aware of and what you can do to prevent or treat them.
Onset of Hypotony
One of the risks of getting an eye stent is the medical device may work too well and cause the onset of hypotony. This is when eye pressure gets too low to for the eye to properly function, typically defined as an IOP (intraocular pressure) reading of 5 mm Hg or below. Several problems can arise due to hypotony, including corneal edema, corneal folds, faster cataract formation, retinal detachment, and vision loss.
Symptoms of hypotony include central vision distortion, persistent eye pain, blurred vision, swelling around and in the eyes, and eye redness. In some cases, though, low eye pressure may not cause any symptoms at all until it's too late and permanent damage has been done.
Preventing hypotony prior to surgery is generally not possible since it can be difficult to predict how the eye will react to the stent. Therefore, monitoring eye health by visiting an ophthalmologist on a regular basis is critical to catching the problem early before damage is done. If hypotony is detected, treatment will vary depending on if there are other problems contributing to the condition. For instance, if the eye is injured in another place that is causing additional leakage, the doctor may try to heal those injuries first to see if that corrects the problem. Medication and dietary changes may also be helpful in fixing the issue.
Another risk associated with eye stent surgery is an infection developing in the eye. One unique thing about eye stents, however, is that infection can develop at any time, even months or years after the surgery has taken place. This is because the stent can become blocked and inhibit the removal of bacteria and harmful wastes.
To minimize the risk of infection, most eye doctors will prescribe antibiotics before and after surgery as well as use antibiotics during the procedure itself to eliminate any bacteria that may have attached itself to the stent. It's critical that you take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed for the length of time recommended by the doctor. Failure to do so can lead to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that may cause a serious enough infection to require that the stent be removed. Always have your eyes checked whenever you suffer from any type of eye infection, including conjunctivitis, to ensure organisms from the infection don't cause a bigger problem with the stent.
A third problem that can arise with eye stents is they can fail. One reason is that the stent may become obstructed as the eye heals and scar tissue forms. The scar tissue may prevent the stent from draining properly, causing intraocular eye pressure to increase.
The stent can also fail due to placement in the eye. If it is installed too close to the iris, it may become clogged with tissue from that part of the eye. Blood clots may also form that block the stent and cause other serious issues. If the stent is placed too close to the cornea, it can cause the cornea to swell and lead to vision problems.
The best way to avoid these issues is to be sure to choose a skilled and experienced eye surgeon who can account for them when placing the stent. Regular monitoring by an ophthalmologist can also help detect problems with scar tissue, which may require additional surgery to fix.
For the most part, eye stents are safe, and most people who get them don't experience any problems. However, it's best to consult with your eye doctor about things you can do to minimize the risk of complications developing. For more information about eye stents, contact an eye doctor from a facility like Country Hills Eye Center.