Belfast woman's revolutionary eye surgery to halt glaucoma
Published 08/06/2010 | 00:32
Belfast woman, Mary McCall, has become the first person in the UK and Ireland to have revolutionary eye surgery aimed at stopping the march of the blinding illness glaucoma.
Mrs McCall, 66, had been slowly losing her eyesight to the disease, which is responsible for causing blindness in more than 67 million people worldwide.
Surgeons at the Cathedral Eye Clinic in Belfast fitted Mrs McCall's eye with a device already being dubbed the 'millimetre miracle'.
The iStent is a tiny piece of titanium weighing just 60 microgrammes - and is the smallest medical device ever to be implanted into the human body. It drains fluid away, lowering eye pressure from a sensitive part at the back of the eye which causes the glaucoma illness.
Details of the operation were disclosed by Cathedral Eye Clinic consultant Colin Willoughby as National Glaucoma Awareness Week got under way.
Glaucoma is a progressive and irreversible illness caused when the optic nerve is damaged by a build-up of fluid. Patients begin to lose peripheral vision and can go blind. Mrs McCall will soon undergo the 15-minute procedure on her second eye.
Mr Willoughby said: "This is a massive step forward for the treatment of glaucoma and has the potential to help so many people. We have now had time to assess Mrs McCall and we are delighted with the result. More importantly, though, is that she is delighted and we are planning to schedule treatment of her other eye soon."
Andrew Spence, director at Cathedral Eye Clinic, said: "This is a revolutionary step forward for the treatment of glaucoma, an illness which medical science has been battling for years. There is still no known cure. The iStent procedure stops the progression of glaucoma and has the potential to save the eyesight of many people."
Mrs McCall, a mother-of-six from Alliance Avenue in north Belfast, said: "The procedure has changed my life. My eyesight was getting worse and the procedure has stopped that.
"Mr Willoughby was brilliant throughout. I went into hospital in the morning and I was home in time for lunch. Sure you couldn't beat that. I used to have to put three different types of drops into my eye in the morning and two at night. I'm hoping to have the other eye done soon, so I won't have to use drops at all."