When Is a XEN Gel Stent Right for Me?

glaucoma treatment near me

Glaucoma is a silent condition that can slowly steal your sight without treatment. While treatments such as eye drops, medications, and surgeries exist, they don’t always work for everyone. This can lead people to seek alternative methods to help preserve their vision.

Enter the XEN Gel Stent. This tiny tube allows the liquid in your eye to flow properly, which in turn reduces high eye pressure. It’s for those who haven’t had luck with other forms of glaucoma treatment. Most people may qualify for the procedure pending their doctor’s approval. Talk to your doctor about side effects and other risks.

To better understand the XEN Gel Stent and if it’s right for you, we’ll look at:

  • What is a XEN Gel Stent?
  • Is a XEN Gel Stent right for me?
  • Understanding glaucoma

Glaucoma has the capacity to greatly affect your life in negative ways. Unfortunately, the standard treatments may not produce any positive for some sufferers. If this sounds like you then it may be time to talk to your doctor about getting a XEN Gel Stent.

What is a XEN Gel Stent?

The XEN Gel Stent is a minimally invasive surgical implant designed to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) and decrease your need for topical medication. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 to aid in avoiding the risks that accompany traditional drainage surgery for glaucoma. 

Those living with glaucoma can often find it difficult to control. Doctors often prescribe eye drops to help reduce pressure in the eye, but they’re not effective for everyone. The XEN Gel Stent can help solve this problem by creating a small channel inside the eye that allows for fluid drainage. 

The XEN Gel Stent is a soft tube that’s shorter than a dime and more narrow than an eyelash. Your doctor will place it underneath the transparent membrane covering the sclera (the white part of the eye). It’s designed to remain permanently in your eye, helping to ensure healthy eye pressure for many years.

Is a XEN Gel Stent right for me?

The XEN Gel Stent is ideal for glaucoma-sufferers who haven’t benefited from other forms of treatment, such as eye drops and surgery. This is known as refractory glaucoma and can be frustrating for those who don’t wish to lose any more of their vision.

It’s at this point that you may want to consider getting a XEN Gel Stent. This can help to reduce the pressure in your eye and protect the vision that you still have. It’s perfect for those who have what’s known as open-angle glaucoma, which affects 90% of glaucoma patients.

Open-angle glaucoma is a condition where the drainage channels within the eye have been obstructed. The blockage of the drainage channel causes the liquid in your eye to backup, resulting in the high eye pressure associated with glaucoma. This can cause damage to your optic nerve and result in vision loss if left untreated.

Keep in mind that not all glaucoma-sufferers will qualify for a XEN Gel Stent, such as those with angle-closure glaucoma. This is a condition where the drainage angle of the eye has not been opened. Having a previously implanted drainage device can also disqualify you, along with other factors.

Results may vary depending on the individual. Talk to your doctor at Baptist Eye Surgeons about what you can expect from the XEN Gel Stent as well as risk factors involved with the procedure.

XEN Gel Stent success rate

One study has found that receiving a XEN Gel Stent implant is effective in controlling high eye pressure for glaucoma patients. On the other hand, they do have the potential for high reoperation and infection rates. Successful surgeries that don’t require revisions can help lower your eye pressure as well as reduce the need for medications.

While those who don’t require revision surgery have great outcomes, those who do may not find the operation worth it. While the first year following surgery produces a 64% success rate, each revision surgery results in a drop in efficacy with subsequent surgery.

XEN Gel Stent Procedure Length and Recovery Time

The XEN Gel Stents fall under the category of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, or MIGS for short. These procedures are usually faster than trabeculectomy and patients have reported faster recovery times, as well. 

Is the XEN Gel Stent covered by Medicare?

According to Medicare.org, the program does cover XEN Gel Stent procedures with or without cataract surgery under Part B. Your health provider and the facility where the procedure takes place must be approved by Medicare, as well. It’s included in Part A if you receive it while in the hospital or are being cared for in “a skilled nursing facility.”

Medicare doesn’t usually provide a lot of coverage for vision.  The effects of high eye pressure make it necessary to be covered under both parts of Medicare.

Understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages your optic nerve as time progresses. This can be a serious problem since the optic nerve is what connects the eyeball to the brain. As light enters the cornea, the retina sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain and become the images we see. If left untreated, glaucoma can result in permanent vision loss.

It’s estimated that around 3 million people have glaucoma, but around half of them don’t know they have it. People 40 years old and up are at the highest risk for the condition, and those with a family history of glaucoma or high eye pressure are also at an increased risk.

Final Thoughts

The XEN Gel Stent is a minimally invasive implant designed to alleviate glaucoma symptoms by reducing eye pressure. It’s ideal for those with open-angle glaucoma that haven’t been helped by other treatments, though not all may qualify. Talk to your surgeon to see if the XEN Gel Stent is the right option for you. To learn more about the underlying causes and effects of glaucoma and the XEN Gel Stent, download our free ebook!

Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN. Visit our website to meet our doctors and learn more about our specialties, or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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