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CO2 laser offers hope to glaucoma patients

08 Oct 2007

Glaucoma sufferers could soon benefit from a surgical technique that uses CO2 lasers.

A carbon-dioxide (CO2) laser-based system for treating glaucoma is both safer for the patient and easier to use compared with existing surgical methods, according to its developers IOPtima of Israel. Once the company has secured FDA approval, it is certain that its OTS134 laser will be widely adopted by ophthalmic surgeons.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease associated with elevated intraocular pressure and visual field loss. If left untreated, the pressure build-up can lead to blindness. Current surgical treatments involve perforation of the wall of the eye which carries a high risk for the patient.

"The most common surgical glaucoma procedure involves penetrating the eye-ball, with inevitable potential side effects and complications," Joshua Degani, CEO of IOPtima, told optics.org. "Our method is non-penetrating which is an easier alternative for surgeons and requires a very short training time."

IOPtima's target markets include hospitals, private ophthalmic surgical centers and outpatient facilities. The company believes that the short learning curve and safety of the procedure will encourage the ophthalmic community to adopt the system. What's more, the company says that its system can be easily installed, stored and removed from any surgical ophthalmic microscopes.

"We are developing a surgical procedure that will be both safe, have long term efficacy, with no side effects and minimal complications, and will be easy to perform. There is no other procedure that meets these requirements," explained Degani. "The system is very simple to use and since the CO2 laser is the most veteran of all medical lasers, we do not expect any difficulties in running this laser in hospitals."

The OTS134 system consists of a CO2 laser, scanner and micromanipulator. The laser beam is applied to the dry scleral tissue of the eye which results in localized ablation of the tissue until a thin wall is achieved. Once enough fluid can percolate through the thin wall, the tissue ablation automatically ceases.

IOPtima has yet to release details of the laser or its cost until the development phase is complete. The company has developed two prototypes, performed 23 human clinical trials and completed its first stage of the clinical study successfully. A larger worldwide study will take place this year and the company is hoping to launch the OTS134 in the US by the middle of 2008.

The company has filed for two broad patent applications covering different aspects of the technology and method and plans to begin marketing in Europe with a fee-per-procedure payment model.

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