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The Dixie Ophthalmic Specialists at Zion Eye Institute is introducing a new, advanced laser treatment for glaucoma.  “This new treatment is minimally invasive and takes only a few minutes,” said Jason Ahee, MD, Executive Director of the Zion Eye Institute, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at University of Utah.  “With this advanced technology, we can reduce or even eliminate the need for eye drops in patients with mild to moderate glaucoma, and also treat patients who have more advanced glaucoma and have failed previous attempted surgical procedures.”

Glaucoma is a condition of the eye that slowly causes damage to the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the eyeball to the brain, and can lead to blindness.  In fact, glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the world.  It is estimated that 2.5 million Americans have glaucoma, but because there are no symptoms, many people don’t know they have it.  It is important to get regular eye exams to check for glaucoma, especially if you have any risk factors, including family history of glaucoma, age over 45, diabetes, high blood pressure, and African-American or Hispanic heritage.

Glaucoma is usually associated with higher than normal eye pressure, and the treatment of glaucoma is aimed at lowering eye pressure.  Most commonly, when someone is diagnosed with glaucoma, they are prescribed eye drops to take for the rest of their lives to help control the eye pressure and prevent vision loss.  Often, patients need to take multiple drops and these eye drops can be expensive, difficult to take, or irritating to the eye.

This new laser treatment is called Endocyclophotocoagulation, or ECP.  It can be easily performed in just a few minutes and is covered by medical insurance.  It involves using a miniature endoscopic camera placed inside the eye to view the area that produces the fluid inside the eye.  This area is then directly treated with a laser which decreases the production of fluid in the eye, and leads to decreased eye pressure.  Several studies have shown that after treatment, most patients reduced or even eliminated the need to take eye drops.

“We are excited to add this state-of-the-art technology to our glaucoma surgical service in St. George,” said Dr. Ahee.  “There are many glaucoma patients here that may otherwise need to travel to Salt Lake City or Las Vegas for glaucoma surgeries, but now we can perform all of these procedures here at the Zion Eye Institute, which is much more convenient for patients.”

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dixie Ophthalmic Specialists, 1791 E. 280 N., St. George , or call 435-656-2020.