New Gel Stent Device Could Be A Better Surgical Option for Glaucoma Patients

There are new treatment options on the horizon that may help reduce the number of traditional surgeries while increasing effectiveness.

For some patients with glaucoma, surgical intervention may be a necessary part of treatment. Traditionally, surgery has included trabeculectomy, the removal of part of the eye’s trabecular meshwork and adjacent tissues, or the placement of tube shunts.

For the most part, these techniques work, but glaucoma specialists are developing less invasive procedures. The thought of having a surgical procedure on your eye can be a very scary concept. Thankfully, there are new options on the horizon, which may help reduce the number of traditional surgeries while increasing effectiveness.

A New Type Of Stent

Researchers at the University of Southern California’s Roski Eye Institute have come up with an effective alternative to traditional surgery in the form of a new type of collagen-derived gelatin stent that is no wider than a human hair. This is good news for a number of reasons:

  • It is substantially less complicated than traditional surgery
  • It is injected into the eye
  • The treatment only takes a few minutes
  • Recovery is faster and much easier

This new treatment would take the form of a shot that could be handled in the doctor’s office, resulting in minimal discomfort and recovery time. What’s more, it would begin to work quickly while reducing the need for eye drops with the same effectiveness as traditional procedures. For patients disappointed with the results of traditional surgical remedies, or who need a truly minimally-invasive procedure, this could soon be a viable answer.

According to Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, the XEN implantable device would be especially helpful for patients whose intraocular pressure failed to be reduced by traditional surgery. He also said that the XEN will offer a new treatment option for patients with primary open angle glaucoma, pseudoexfoliative or pigmentary glaucoma with open angles that are unresponsive to maximum tolerated medical therapy.

The Reality of This “Future Tech”

This technology was initially developed several years ago. In 2014, human trials in the efficacy of gel stents began, and in 2015 Dr. Varma reported the results of those trials. One year after implantation, Varma found patient eye pressure was reduced by 44% and their medication was reduced by 65%. In November 2016, Allergan, the manufacturer of the XEN system, received FDA approval for the treatments.

While it is still too early to know how effective the XEN device will be in treating those with glaucoma, it is an exciting development and another step on the path towards quicker, easier, and less expensive treatment options for those suffering with this degenerative disease.



1 “USC Roski Eye Institute Director Helps Breakthrough Glaucoma Treatment Come to the U.S. as Allergan Receives FDA Clearance for XEN® Gel Stent.” USC Roski Eye Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.

2 Snelling, Sherri. “Breakthrough refractory glaucoma treatment cleared by FDA after clinical trials.” Keck School of Medicine of USC. N.p., 30 Nov, 2016. Web. 06 Jan. 2017.


First posted March 9, 2017