XEN Gel Stent: More Options for Glaucoma Surgery Comes to UW Health

News // Jan 18 2018

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization. The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group estimates that over three million Americans have the disease, which does not have a cure.

Glaucoma is a complex eye disease of the optic nerve. In most cases, high pressure in the eye is to blame for the optic nerve damage. 90% of glaucoma cases are considered to be open-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the natural movement of fluid moving and draining in the eye becomes obstructed. There is then a gradual increase in the amount of fluid in the eye, which leads to the buildup of pressure.

Once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be regained. However, when glaucoma is diagnosed and treated early, it can be managed with medication or surgery to slow or prevent further vision loss. Though eye drops and surgeries exist, they may not work for every patient. When previous treatment has failed, this is called refractory glaucoma.

The XEN™ Gel Stent was approved by the FDA in November of 2016 for patients with refractory glaucoma. It is among a category of newer glaucoma surgeries which are considered minimally invasive. The XEN Gel Stent is a flexible surgical implant, about the length of an eyelash, that is placed inside the eye to create a channel to the area under the conjunctiva. Anna Momont, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, notes that the XEN Gel Stent is a novel surgery when compared to traditional glaucoma surgeries, which require the creation of channels from outside of the eye rather than inside of the eye.

After one year of follow up, XEN Gel Stent patients appear to have fewer complications and good success in lowering the eye pressure when compared to more traditional glaucoma surgeries. Dr. Momont notes, ““Although we don’t yet have a cure for glaucoma, I think it is wonderful that we are able to provide patients more options than ever when surgery is necessary to control their disease.” The first XEN Gel Stent procedure at UW Health Eye Clinics is scheduled to be performed at the end of January, 2018.

Anna Momont

MD