Beating Blindness

March 23, 2017

Stillwater Man, 46, Finds Hope in Sight-Saving Procedure Developed by Local Surgeon

Whether he’s hitting the birdie in a friendly game of badminton or pouring over Emails in his role as Director of Housing and Residential Life at Oklahoma State University, 46-year-old Leon McClinton never takes his vision for granted, not any more.

It wasn’t long after McClinton landed his dream job at OSU when he experienced extreme discomfort in his right eye -- the same eye that had been scratched years earlier while playing basketball.  He made an appointment with a local eye doctor the very next day.

“The doctor examines my eyes and says, ‘You are going to lose the vision in your right eye and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can try to save the vision in your left eye,” McClinton said. “That was definitely some devastating news.”

McClinton was told he had glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in this country. With glaucoma, the flow of fluid in the eye is hindered so pressure in the eye can build up, damaging the optic nerve.   

Struggling to find hope when so little was offered, McClinton shared the news of his diagnosis with a colleague at OSU. She urged him to get a second opinion from one of the experts at the Dean McGee Eye Institute in Oklahoma City.

khaimi-1McClinton saw Dr. Mahmoud Khaimi, a surgeon at Dean McGee and clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  Khaimi made the same diagnosis of glaucoma, but offered a very different treatment plan. He told McClinton that he wanted to operate right away to save the vision in his right eye. 

“Dr. Khaimi just said, ‘We are going to do surgery.’ He was so confident that it put me at ease,” McClinton remarked.

McClinton would undergo a revolutionary minimally-invasive procedure Khaimi himself developed. It’s  called ABiC. (ABiC is the trademarked acronym for ab interno Canaloplasty.) ABiC uses breakthrough microcatheter technology to enlarge the eye’s natural drainage system, improving outflow and lowering eye pressure, much like a heart surgeon opens up clogged coronary arteries through angioplasty.  It restores normal fluid flow, without damaging tissue or leaving behind a stent or shunt inside the eye.

“It’s a minimally-invasive, yet highly effective, way of rejuvenating the eye’s natural drain system, effectively lowering intraocular pressure to a level that is safe for the patient’s eye health.  All in all, the procedure takes minutes to perform, with minimal manipulation of the eye and without having to implant any pressure lowering devices,” Khaimi explained.  “What's even more amazing is that ABiC is less invasive then routine cataract surgery.”

He said other physicians have been amazed by the fact that ABiC is so minimally invasive and yet has such a maximal effect on the treatment of glaucoma.  

“Traditionally, we have tried to treat a patient with glaucoma with drops or with laser treatment first. Then, if that does not control the disease, we move towards surgical management. However, because ABiC is a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery with very minimal risk, we are now changing our treatment paradigm to proceed to surgical management much earlier in the disease process,” Khaimi said.

mcclinton-1Long gone are the days when glaucoma specialists wait until the disease progresses to a moderate or even severe stage prior to using surgical intervention, he added.

 “This has been a very humbling and extremely gratifying time in my career. Moreover, on a larger scale, the advent of ABiC has had a monumental impact on the surgical management of glaucoma worldwide,” he added.

McClinton, who has now had the minimally invasive surgery done on both eyes, says the impact on his life has most definitely been monumental.  Today, he is seeing the world with restored vision and with renewed hope.  

“I am very thankful ,” he said, “I am doing very well and I can see very well now thanks to Dr. Khaimi.”



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