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article imageNew Tool Improves Eye Surgery

By Bob Ewing     Sep 11, 2007 in Health
Glaucoma affects 3 million Americans every year, with onset around the age of 40. It is a disease that is brought on by a seemingly harmless increase of pressure in the eyeball. Prof Assia has invented a new tool that makes eye surgery simpler to perform
Prof. Ehud Assia, of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine is one of a small number of surgeons worldwide, who currently are able to perform a complicated form of glaucoma surgery. Assia is also the director of Ophthalmology at Meir Hospital in Israel, which treats thousands of glaucoma patients each year.
Now, the professor has invented a laser device that will enable most practicing eye surgeons to perform this complex glaucoma surgery. Asia’s invention is known as OTS134
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is often referred to as the silent sight thief. “Glaucoma is a serious problem that starts to cause nerve damage to people without them realizing that anything is happening to their eyesight, often before it is too late, “ says Prof. Assia.
The surgery that is most commonly used today perforates the wall of the eye and this often causes the collapse of the eyeball, infection, cataract formation and other complications.
Prof. Assia's, has developed a special approach involves penetration of the eye wall to a depth of only about 95 percent, leaving a razor-thin layer intact. The difference between success and failure may amount to just a few microns.
Unfortunately this specialized surgery requires years of rigorous training and great skill, and so is performed by only a small number of surgeons at leading international ophthalmology centers.
Thanks to Assia’s work and OTS134 this may all change.
“Several years ago I served as a consultant for a company that produces CO2 lasers, which are used for different kinds of cosmetic and skin surgery. Because it is a relatively strong type of laser, it was not a likely candidate for use on something as delicate as the eye. However, one of the CO2 laser's unique characteristics is that it does not function when it comes in contact with liquid. It occurred to me that this would be a perfect fit for non-penetrating surgery, because the moment the CO2 laser came in contact with the intra-ocular liquid, it would automatically shut off,” Assia said.
Assia and his partner the Israeli-based company I Optima, have already carried out a series of successful human trials. A larger worldwide study will take place this year before the company launches the OTS134 — as it plans to do in the United States — by the middle of 2008.
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