By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s a tiny device that’s offering big advantages for people with glaucoma. It’s an incurable eye disease that’s on the rise.

The implant is used in conjunction with cataract surgery.

Ronald O’Grady is among 3 million Americans who have glaucoma, a build up of fluid in the eye that can damage the optic nerve, causing blindness.

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“I was very surprised because I had no symptoms at all, glaucoma doesn’t have symptoms.” The traditional treatment is eye drops.

“The big issue is people don’t like using eye drops and they often forget,” said Dr. Jesse Richman of the Kremer Eye Center which is now using a new high tech alternative to eye drops. It’s an implant called iStent.

The iStent is placed during cataract surgery. It acts like a tunnel in the eye. The iStent is just a passage way to let fluid from inside the eye go directly into the natural drain, so the eye drains better.

More than 200,000 people have the iStent. Dr. Richman says it doesn’t cause any extra complications than cataract surgery.

For Ronald, who lives in West Berlin, New Jersey, he doesn’t have to worry about remembering all the eye drops and he’s relieved the iStent is helping to save his vision.

The implant is covered by insurance. Doctors say anyone can develop glaucoma and there’s an increased risk if there’s a family history and for African Americans over age 40, or Mexican Americans.

The best prevention comes with regular check ups at the Eye Doctor.

Stephanie Stahl