Frequently Asked Questions
In a healthy eye, aqueous humor (fluid) is produced to nourish and clean the eye at the same rate at which it is drained in order to maintain a constant and normal intraocular pressure (IOP). A loss of drainage function leads to a high IOP, which can result in glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can result in irreversible vision loss.
To date there is no cure for glaucoma. Glaucoma treatments are designed to slow, or halt, the progression of the disease. Your surgeon will determine what level of IOP is required in order to preserve your vision.
Many people with glaucoma cannot drive a car safely, see their grandchildren on the soccer field, and view the world as they once did. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision.
Typically, glaucoma is treated with a laser or with one or a combination of medications. However, drugs must be taken every day, and these medications can lose their effectiveness over time, especially when patients are in the advanced stages of the disease. When medications cease to be effective, or are deemed unsuitable due to side effects or lifestyle, different surgical techniques can be used.
ABiC™ is an advanced surgical treatment for glaucoma. It uses breakthrough microcatheter technology to enlarge your eye’s natural drainage system, similar to angioplasty.
ABiC™ works within the natural structures of the eye. No artificial pathways are created, and no incisions are made within the visual field of the eye. There is a reduced level of postoperative complications when compared to traditional surgical techniques.
ABiC™ is an effective surgical option for the majority of glaucoma patients, including: open-angle glaucoma (OAG), pigmentary glaucoma (PG), pseudoexfoliation glaucoma (PXF), normal tension glaucoma (NTG) and juvenile glaucoma. It is also suitable for patients who wear contact lenses. Patients with contact lenses are unable to undergo the traditional forms of glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy or shunt). ABiC™ is well suited to patients at high risk for infection or bleeding and those with enhanced wound healing. ABiC™ may also be suited to patients who have had complications in the other eye following trabeculectomy.
ABiC™ is clinically proven to significantly reduce intraocular pressure (IOP). As an added benefit, many patients who undergo ABiC™ no longer require anti-glaucoma medications, or can reduce the number of medications required.
Traditional glaucoma surgeries (trabeculectomy or shunt surgery) require the creation of a permanent hole (or fistula) through the wall of the eye (sclera). In contrast,ABiC™ works independent of a fistula. As a result, ABiC™ offers a much better risk-benefit ratio and requires minimal post-operative follow-up: patients can return to normal day-to-day activities almost immediately following treatment.
First, your surgeon will make a small incision in the eye. A microcatheter designed specifically for ABiC™ is then inserted into the eye’s circumferential drainage canal, which may be reduced in size or closed due to the high pressure in your eye. Your surgeon will advance the microcatheter 360 degrees around the canal to open up the channel and enlarge it. Once the end of the catheter has circumnavigated to its point of entry, the microcatheter tip is slowly pulled back while sterile, viscoelastic gel is injected into the canal to dilate it to 2-3 times its normal size. Enlarging and flushing through the drainage canal and adjacent outflow channels helps the aqueous fluid to drain properly. The microcatheter is then withdrawn from the eye. It is important to note that there are no permanent implants or devices left in the eye.
By restoring your eye’s natural drainage system, the pressure inside your eye is usually lowered.
One to three days after the procedure, your intraocular pressure should drop significantly. And of course, your physician will want to re-check the treated eye during periodic follow-up visits.
Depending on the results of the procedure, your ensuing intraocular pressure (IOP) and the severity of your glaucoma, your surgeon will evaluate whether or not you need to continue to use any medication. In many cases, patients do not need to continue to use eye drops after ABiC™.
ABiC™ is a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery and offers a high safety profile with limited risk of complications and side effects. It is important to note, however, that all surgeries have risks associated with them. The most common side effects associated with ABiC™ are bleeding in the eye and IOP spikes.
In ABiC™, a viscoelastic is a sterile, gel-like material, which is injected into the canal to dilate the drainage channel, thereby facilitating the exit of fluid through the natural outflow pathways.
There is growing evidence that Schlemm’s canal (the eye’s natural drainage duct) decreases in size with long-term use of anti-glaucoma medications. If there is significant stenosis (scarring down) of the canal, then it may not be possible to pass the microcatheter all of the way around the canal. However, even if a stent cannot be left in the canal it is generally possible to dilate a significant portion of the canal with viscoelastic in order to provide an IOP-lowering effect.
ABiC™ can be performed after SLT. And SLT can also be performed after ABiC™ , The two treatments are considered to be complementary given that they both stimulate the natural outflow systems, by biological and surgical means respectively.
A key benefit of ABiC™ is that is does not preclude other forms of glaucoma surgery. If the procedure is unsuccessful, your surgeon may elect to perform conventional glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy).
PhacoCanaloplasty is a combined cataract and glaucoma treatment. During the first part of the procedure, your surgeon will replace the clouded natural lens of your eye with an artificial lens in order to help give you sharper vision. In the second part of the procedure your surgeon will use microcatheter technology to enlarge your eye’s drainage system, similar to angioplasty, in order to reduce your intraocular pressure (IOP).
While traditional glaucoma surgeries can be effective, they permanently impact the anatomic structure of the eye and can require repeated, unscheduled visits to the ophthalmologist for wound management. ABiC™ is a restorative treatment. Unlike trabeculectomy, which bypasses the eye’s natural drainage channels, ABiC™ restores the natural outflow pathways in order to reduce the elevated intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma. ABiC™ works within the natural structures of the eye because no artificial pathways are created and no incisions are made within the visual field of the eye. ABiC™ has a high safety profile and requires minimal post-operative follow-up: ABiC™ patients can return to normal day-to-day activities almost immediately following treatment.
During trabeculectomy, your surgeon will create a hole in the wall of the eye (sclera) to allow the fluid to flow from the inside of the front of the eye (anterior chamber) through the scleral hole to a bleb (cyst, or blister-like elevation of the conjunctiva). Trabeculectomy is a highly invasive technique that bypasses the eye’s natural outflow pathways and carries a high risk of complications such as infection and leakage. In contrast, ABiC™ is a minimally invasive technique which uses breakthrough microcatheter technology to enlarge your eye’s natural drainage system, improving outflow and lowering eye pressure. It is important to note that ABiC acts to restore the natural outflow system, rather than bypass it. And ABiC does not leave any permanent implant or device in your eye.
ABiC™ is essentially a modification of viscocanalostomy, which was first described in 1991 by South African glaucoma specialist Dr. Robert Stegmann. The iTrack™ microcatheter required to perform ABiC™ was approved by the FDA more than 10 years ago. To date, more than 60,000 procedures have been performed worldwide.
With traditional Canaloplasty, the iTrack™ microcatheter is inserted from an external approach i.e. ab-interno: cutting through the conjuctiva and sclera. With ABiC™ , the iTrack microcatheter is inserted from an internal approach i.e ab-interno: through either a clear corneal or a limbal micro-incision, then through a small opening in the trabecular meshwork, and into Schlemm’s canal.
Unlike ABiC™ , which involves use the iTrack™ microcatheter to simply enlarge Schlemm’s canal to 2-3 times its normal size, thereby restoring the outflow of aqueous fluid, traditional canaloplasty requires several additional surgical steps. For example, a surgical procedure called deep sclerectomy, whereby two flaps are cut into the sclera to expose and access the Schlemm’s canal, must first be performed. Traditional canaloplasty also uses a tensioning suture to help ensure a sustained reduction in IOP.
ABiC™ is well suited to patients suffering from glaucoma in its early stages and can be easily combined with cataract surgery to reduce IOP and/or your reliance on medications. Traditional canaloplasty is a more viable option if you suffer from glaucoma in its later stages and thereby require a more significant reduction in IOP.