This new glaucoma device is the smallest implantable medical device in the world and is the latest advancement in glaucoma care
Today, Wilmington Eye announced Dr. Robert van der Vaart, a board-certified ophthalmic surgeon and glaucoma expert, has successfully implanted the iStent infinite® at Wilmington Eye Surgery Center. This is the first time this glaucoma device has been implanted in the Carolinas, marking the next step in the advancement of glaucoma care for the region.
Glaucoma, a collection of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, affects roughly three million Americans and is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness, which means that early detection and treatment are key to stopping vision loss, limiting the reduction of productivity and preserving a patient’s quality of life. Early disease recognition, proactive management by a glaucoma expert, and the use of new technology to prevent progression beyond the early stages may also reduce societal economic burdens as it’s estimated that the cost to the U.S. government is over $1.5 billion annually, and one study found that moderate-income patients spent 19.5% of their monthly income on glaucoma care, with low-income patients spending an average of 61.5% of their monthly income on glaucoma care.
Dr. van der Vaart has successfully implanted the iStent infinite®, an implantable device that slows the progression of glaucoma in adults who did not experience success with medications or surgical treatments for the condition. This device — currently the smallest implantable medical device in the world — is an adaptation of a previous version called the iStent, which was only available to patients in conjunction with cataract surgery, meaning patients who could benefit from the procedure had to wait until the progression of cataracts, which typically happens in their 60s or 70s. This newest version, the iStent infinite®, can now be implanted in patients of any age who have been diagnosed with glaucoma.
“I am excited to offer this as the newest option in our extensive surgical armamentarium. The iStent infinite promises to bring this minimally invasive surgical procedure — utilizing the smallest medical implant currently available across the world — to a whole new category of glaucoma patients. Previously only available to patients undergoing cataract surgery, this new device is a viable option for any patient with uncontrolled glaucoma,” says Dr. Robert van der Vaart, partner, board-certified ophthalmic surgeon, and glaucoma expert at Wilmington Eye.
The operation occurred at Wilmington Eye Surgery Center, Wilmington Eye’s own freestanding ambulatory surgery center (ASC). The state-of-the-art surgical facility opened in November of 2021 and is the only ambulatory surgery center in eastern North Carolina focused primarily on ophthalmic surgery cases. As the first ASC to accommodate the new procedure, the surgical facility has positioned itself as a leader in bringing new medical technology and surgical vision care to the Cape Fear region and beyond.
“It’s important for WESC to deliver innovative care to our patients and we are very excited to be on the forefront with the latest technology,” says Kathy Erickson, CEO of Wilmington Eye, parent company of Wilmington Eye Surgery Center.
Dr. van der Vaart is currently accepting new glaucoma patients who are interested in this newest treatment option. For more details about the iStent infinite® or to schedule an appointment with Dr. van der Vaart, visit wilmingtoneye.com.