Ease The Pressure

Tiny, dissolving eye implant steadily delivers glaucoma medication.

Mollie Lundy and her husband opened up their California home to foster children in need of parental love and guidance. Shortly after the couple adopted the last three of their foster children, Mollie’s husband was offered early retirement from his civil service job.

Jakob-Lennon Lundy

Jakob-Lennon Lundy

Unfortunately, with the climbing cost of living in the Golden State, her husband’s retirement pay didn’t stretch far enough.

“We looked for a less expensive place to live and ended up moving to Texas,” Mollie shares. “But one of our children was allergic to just about everything that grew there. Once we sold our home in Texas, we relocated to Florida. That was eight years ago.”

In addition to their adopted children, Mollie and her husband also have an older son, Jakob-Lennon, 40. According to Mollie, Jakob-Lennon is developmentally disabled with a severe speech and language delay. He also has bilateral hearing loss, with a 70 percent deficit in one ear and 75 percent in the other. 

“He has glaucoma as well and recently underwent surgery to have cataracts removed,” Mollie reports. “One day, I noticed that Jakob-Lennon’s eyes were redder than they usually are from his allergies, and the redness lasted longer.”

Mollie took Jakob-Lennon to the family’s optometrist, who discovered that the pressure in Jakob-Lennon’s eyes was extraordinarily high, a symptom of open-angle glaucoma. In this type of glaucoma, the eye’s drainage network is partially blocked, causing fluid to build, which increases eye pressure.

“The doctor wrote a prescription for eyedrops, but when we returned two weeks later, the pressure in Jakob-Lennon’s eyes was even higher,” Mollie remembers. “The doctor tried more medication, which didn’t work, and then referred us to Brandon Eye Associates.”

At Brandon Eye Associates, Jakob-Lennon was treated by Haroon Ilyas, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained corneal and refractive surgeon. Dr. Ilyas explains that normal intraocular pressure varies depending on the person but notes that an average measurement of 21 or under is healthy. Anything above 21 is considered elevated, and when he first measured Jakob-Lennon’s pressure, it was in the 30s.

Glaucoma Diagram

Glaucoma Diagram

To correct the problem, Dr. Ilyas tried different glaucoma medications, which were effective for a while, but Jakob-Lennon’s eye pressure eventually began to climb again. Dr. Ilyas’ next step was to perform a laser procedure, but that also failed to reduce Jakob-Lennon’s pressure to the target level.

Finally, Dr. Ilyas recommended DURYSTA™, a biodegradable, sustained-release implant that continuously delivers glaucoma medication within the eye, helping to reduce and maintain healthy pressure.

Effective Solutions

“DURYSTA is a new, first-class injectable medication pellet that is inserted into the front of the patient’s eye,” Dr. Ilyas describes. “The pellet steadily releases a medication called bimatoprost, which controls high eye pressure associated with glaucoma.

“Bimatoprost is in a class of medications called prostaglandins, which have historically been one of the best options for treating glaucoma. In the past, the only way to get prostaglandins into patients’ eyes was to formulate them into eyedrops.”

A common challenge in the treatment of glaucoma is patient noncompliance with an eyedrop regimen.

“Prostaglandin drops must be placed in the eyes at bedtime,” Dr. Ilyas notes. “Many patients forget to use the drops at night, so their glaucoma is not well-controlled. In addition, some patients have difficulty placing drops in their eyes. They miss the eye completely, and the medication lands on the cheeks instead.

“Jakob-Lennon is disabled and unable to put drops in his eyes, so his mother has the responsibility of giving him the medication. But his mother has other responsibilities and a busy schedule, and he was on multiple glaucoma drops. It was becoming difficult for her to place all of the drops on a routine schedule.”

Further, the cost of glaucoma eyedrops can be prohibitive for some people, especially those on multiple medications. With DURYSTA, people can often stop using the other  medications, which can reduce the overall costs of their glaucoma treatment. And, it eliminates the noncompliance issue.

“The procedure to insert DURYSTA is simple,” Dr. Ilyas assures. “Patients place their chin on the slit lamp, which is used to examine the eyes. Then, numbing drops are placed in the patient’s eyes. Next, with the patient’s head facing forward, we inject the DURYSTA pellet into the front of the eye. The entire procedure takes less than one minute.”

“Jakob-Lennon is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds,” Mollie discloses. “If he’s not willing to do something, it can be an issue. But he had no problem getting the DURYSTA implant. He wasn’t frightened or noncompliant because Dr. Ilyas explained exactly what he was going to do and assured him that it wasn’t going to hurt.”

“Best It’s Been in Years”

Dr. Ilyas was confident the implants would lower the pressure in Jakob-Lennon’s eyes.

“Within a day or so, Jakob-Lennon’s pressure went down to the low 20s, and it’s now in the teens in both eyes,” Mollie reports. “That’s the best it’s been in years.

“Today, Jakob-Lennon just takes one glaucoma pill. Before, he was taking two or three different pills and at least three different eyedrops. And I couldn’t put them all in at the same time. I had to wait 10 or 15 minutes in between. There was a schedule to follow, and I had to stay on top of it.

“Now, he takes the pill with his morning meds and just gets artificial tears during the course of the day to make sure his eyes stay nice and moist. It’s just one drop in each eye.”

Mollie is thrilled with the results of Jakob-Lennon’s treatment at Brandon Eye Associates. She is also pleased with the physician and his staff.

“Dr. Ilyas is a wonderful doctor,” Mollie raves. “Many doctors ignore the person with a disability and speak only to the caregiver like the person is not there. But Dr. Ilyas interacts with Jakob-Lennon and explains as much as he can understand, while at the same time giving the pertinent information to me. Dr. Ilyas has a very good manner with my son and is very considerate.

“The staff at Brandon Eye Associates is really nice as well. They go out of their way to be kind to Jakob-Lennon and to not let him become overwhelmed with all the activity going on in the office. They’re all very good with him, and we appreciate that.” 

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Graphic courtesy of All About Vision. mkb
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    • Brandon Eye Associates, PA

      The doctors at Brandon Eye Associates use their hearts to help care for your eyes. In addition to being lauded, board-certified physicians at the height of their careers, your Brandon, Sun City Center and Plant City Ophthalmologists are car... Read More

    • Haroon Ilyas, MD

      Haroon Ilyas, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. Dr. Ilyas completed his undergraduate studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, earning a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. He attended medical school at... Read More