Austin Eye is offering a tiny implant to help patients with glaucoma see.

Glaucoma is an eye disease that if untreated can lead to blindness. Treating it with the traditional therapy of eye drops about a dozen times a day is often painful.

More than 3 million Americans are currently living with glaucoma. It’s one of the leading causes of blindness when left untreated. Finding an effective way to manage the condition can be frustrating. However, a new device barely visible to the naked eye is offering hope to glaucoma patients.

The iStent, the tiniest implantable device ever approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration releases pressure from the eye. When implanted, patients can’t feel the millimeter-long device or even see it without a special microscope. It also completely eliminates the need for eye drops.

“The eye is like a kitchen sink,” Dr. George Tanaka, a glaucoma specialist at the Eye Surgery Center of San Francisco, said. “In glaucoma, there’s a blockage at the drain so that the pressure in the eye can build up because the fluid has no place to go.”

Tanaka said the iStent is a breakthrough for managing the condition, and can work for a number of patients. “This can be done in conjunction with cataract surgery,” he said. “The recovery time from the surgery is very quick.”

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