Grand Rapids Ophthalmology implants smallest FDA approved medical device


The iStent medical device appears as a speck beneath the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a penny. Courtesy Grand Rapids Ophthalmology

Grand Rapids Ophthalmology eye surgeon and partner Dr. Marcus Muallen has performed the first implant in Michigan of the smallest medical device ever approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to GRO.

The iStent Trabecular micro-bypass stent is FDA approved for use in cataract surgery to reduce eye pressure in adults who have mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma being treated with glaucoma medicine. The stent is made by Laguna Hills, Calif.-based Glaukos  

Pressure within the eye is a primary cause of open-angle glaucoma.

“This is great news for people who have both a cataract and glaucoma,” said Muallen, explaining that the eye-drop medicine used to treat glaucoma can be difficult to administer and expensive.

With the iStent, many patients will need less medicine to control their eye pressure and some may not need prescription eye drops at all.

The iStent is placed in a patient’s eye during cataract surgery, and Muallen said it is “so small you are unable to see or feel it after the procedure is done.”

Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of patients do not comply with their eye medication instructions and almost half stop taking the medications within six months, according to GRO.

“This can be a serious problem. When pressure in the eye is out of control, it can increase the risk for permanent vision loss. I consider iStent an important advancement in protecting against vision loss for my glaucoma patients,” Muallen said.

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