Sights set on the future

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Hunter Valley Private Hospital has successfully completed an Australian-first glaucoma procedure

A new Australian-first procedure to help reduce vision loss in glaucoma patients has been successfully completed on a Newcastle woman at a Hunter Valley hospital. Carol Hall from Cardiff had a tiny titanium device called an iStent implanted into her right eye in a 20-minute procedure at Hunter Valley Private Hospital (HVPH) in February.

Glaucoma is a disease often associated with rising pressure inside the eye that damages the optic nerve. Nicknamed the ‘sneak thief of sight’, if left untreated it can cause irreversible blindness.

Consultant surgeon Dr David Manning said in the past glaucoma sufferers either had to undergo complicated surgery or use daily eye drops to help manage this incurable disease. Dr Manning said the implant is helping to reduce the need for either. Research conducted in the United States shows that 68 per cent of glaucoma patients who received the iStent remained medication free at 12 months.

“The iStent basically creates a channel for fluid to bypass the site of blockage in the eye and lower the eye pressure to help prevent further vision loss,” Dr Manning said. “The procedure is minimally invasive and has little risk compared to other major glaucoma surgeries.”

Ms Hall had her check up with Dr Manning at his rooms in Charlestown. She said she was back at bingo and is chuffed at being the first Australian with an iStent. According to Glaucoma Australia, one in 10 Australians over 80 will develop glaucoma. More than 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, but 50 percent of those people don’t know they have it. While it is more common as people age, it can occur at any age. As our population becomes older, the proportion of glaucoma patients is increasing.

HVPH CEO Lance Wheeldon said the hospital is a leading ophthalmology facility in Newcastle and the Hunter. Dr Manning is one of eight eye specialists that operate at the Shortland hospital. HVPH was the first hospital in NSW and the second in the southern hemisphere to use a $65,000 surgical guidance system to enable real-time eye tracking ensuring extremely accurate alignment of a lens.

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