Durham, N.C. — There’s a new device to help doctors treat glaucoma patients more accurately.
Often associated with increased pressure of fluid in the eye, glaucoma is a disease in which the optic nerve is damaged, sometimes leading to irreversible eye loss.
Patients have to go to ophthalmologists several times a year to get their eye pressure measured.
The problem, however, is that the readings – like those for blood pressure or blood sugar – fluctuate.
The new portable device would allow patients to perform their own readings more often to provide their doctors with a better picture of pressure in the eyes.
The device is currently approved only for use in a doctor’s office, but Duke University is studying it for use by patients at home.
A 15-minute training session prepares the patient to use the device several times a day for several days in a month.
A tiny probe actually touches the eye.
“This technology, though it touches the eye, does not need an anesthetic because of the speed at which it does it. The eye doesn't feel it,” Duke ophthalmologist Dr. Sanjay Asrani said.
With a long-term picture of how eye pressure fluctuates, Asrani believes that he will be able to make better decisions for treatment.
Patient Toni Whitaker, who has her eyes checked four times a year to keep her eye pressure stabilized, has already used medications and has had two laser treatments to improve drainage in her eyes.
“Since there is no cure right now (for glaucoma), we’ve got to do what we can to make sure that I keep as much vision as I can for as long as I can,” she said.