New Glaucoma Treatment Illustrates Broad Impact of Biomedical Research

July 7, 1999

Researchers in The University of Arizona's Biomedical Engineering Program have identified a new and better way to provide relief for patients with advanced glaucoma.

Typically, such patients receive an implant, called an ocular shunt, to drain fluid from and relieve pressure on the eye. Long-term use of these devices has been problematic, however, because the human body fights off the implant as it would any foreign body.

But with the help of biomedical engineering techniques, UA researchers from the departments of surgery and ophthalmology have identified a more effective method of providing the same treatment. The researchers use a new technology known as tissue engineering to create a new shunt that is more readily accepted by existing tissue, said Stuart K. Williams, chairman of the Biomedical Engineering Program and chief of the UA's Section of Surgical Research.

This new device, currently undergoing preclinical evaluations, is just one of many new devices under development in the UA's Biomedical Engineering laboratories. "Biomedical engineers will develop new technologies that impact people afflicted with all kinds of diseases, from glaucoma and diabetes to arthritis, heart and kidney failure and more," said Williams, a professor of surgery, physiology and materials science, and engineering.