The first transnational glaucoma research in Asia will be launched to help patients choose the best surgical treatment

Traditional glaucoma surgery success rate of only 70-80%, the other form of surgery is more expensive, in order to more effectively compare the two glaucoma surgical treatment, local researchers will start the first transnational research in Asia, so that doctors and patients can make the best choice.

The five-year study

This five-year study, conducted by the Singapore National Eye Center, the Singapore Eye Research Institute and the Singapore Clinical Research Institute. In addition to Singapore, the research team will also investigate patients in 10 Asian countries including China, Thailand and Malaysia.

Glaucoma is one of the major causes of blindness, with 3% of citizens above 40 years suffering from glaucoma. About 40% of all blind cases result from glaucoma.

One of the study leaders, Professor Aung Tin when interviewed, pointed out that because the patient's eyes cannot drain out properly, their eye pressure is higher than the average person, which may cause their vision to be permanently damaged.

At present, doctors generally perform trabeculectomy for the more serious patients, where a cut is done on their eyes for a drainage channel to reduce the patient's eye pressure. But earlier studies have shown that the success rate of such operations is only 70% to 80%.

Another common type of surgery is the implantation of a small drainage tube in the patient's eye. This surgery is called tube shunts and generally costs twice as much as trabeculectomy, hence most doctors do the trabeculectomy first, and if the surgery is unsuccessful, the patient undergo tube shunt surgery.

Prof Aung Tin, the deputy director of the Singapore National Eye Center, also pointed out that because there is no direct study on the efficacy of these two surgeries in Asia at present, most doctors rely on their own experience to choose the treatment mode for their patients. Many also take the price of the surgery as a considering factor, but this is not necessarily the best practice.

The research team's goal is to enroll 300 first-time adult patients with glaucoma surgery to join the research program in the next year or so. At least 60 of them come from the National Eye Center Singapore, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National University Hospital.

Half of the patients will undergo trabeculectomy and the other half will undergo tube shunt surgery. Researchers will follow up their case within five years of their operation, during which follow-up costs will be funded by the National Medical Research Council.

Prof Aung Tin said: "This study aims to follow up patients' long-term recovery, including whether their eye pressure is maintained at normal level after surgery, whether there is any deterioration, and whether any complications, etc. With two sets of patients' data for comparative analysis, doctors can accurately provide more effective treatment for patients in the future. "

The result is expected to be released around 2023.