(NBC) - The price of gold is going up, but a clinical trial shows it may be worth it for some people with vision problems.
Yale glaucoma surgeon Nils Loewen recently performed the new procedure on Ron Kortsep. The treatment involves using a shunt made of gold to prevent glaucoma from stealing his eyesight.
"My left eye was getting weaker, I was losing vision, peripheral vision which glaucoma tends to go; the glaucoma was getting more aggressive so we're trying some different things to bring the pressure down," Kortsep said.
Loewen is the first physician in the U.S. to insert a gold shunt into a patient's eye. It's part of a trial. The device reduces eye pressure by helping it drain properly.
"It all happens at the front part of the eye, where the big surgeries with the drainage implants are at the very back, even back past the equator in some cases," Loewen said.
The procedure is already approved in other countries.
The gold used in the surgery is not like a bar of gold; it's highly purified. Scientists take out all the copper and the body doesn't reject it.
If approved for glaucoma patients, Loewen said this shunt could become the gold standard because results are promising and it's less invasive.
"With these smaller incisions, less wound area, equals a quiet eye, equals a comfortable eye," he said.
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