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Glaucoma

Surgical Procedures For Glaucoma

Last updated on:
27/03/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Various surgical procedures-both traditional surgery and laser surgery-can make a major difference in a glaucoma sufferer's life. A possible side effect of glaucoma surgery is the development of cataracts in some eyes. However, cataracts are easier to treat than glaucoma.

Laser surgery involves the use of a bright and highly focused light to destroy tissue or fix tissue in place.

Surgical procedures for glaucoma include:

  • Laser trabeculoplasty, a laser surgery procedure that is now a standard treatment for open-angle glaucoma. A safe and fast outpatient procedure that requires almost no recuperation, it normally takes about five minutes per eye and is usually painless.

    First, the eye is numbed with an anesthetic. The laser is aimed at the drainage channels in the eye, in order to make a tiny hole and let the fluid drain more easily. It normally works for 80 percent of people, and the effects last for five years.

    Most people will need to continue their medications even after laser treatment. After the operation a person may have slightly blurred vision and some redness in the eyes that lasts a day or so.

  • Trabeculectomy is a traditional surgical procedure. In trabeculectomy, a tiny hole is made in the sclera (the white part of the eye) out of which fluid drains. It may take six to eight weeks for vision to return to the same level as before the operation.

    This procedure is used to provide long-term relief from high eye pressure without the use of medication.

  • Drain implantation involves placing a microscopic plastic tube, or drain, within the eye to improve drainage and lower eye pressure.
  • Ciliodestructive surgery, sometimes called cyclophotocoagulation, is a procedure in which a laser is used on the surface of the eye. The goal is to disrupt the process within the eye that produces the aqueous fluid. This reduces fluid production.

    Because this procedure can cause a decrease in vision, it is usually used as a last resort when other procedures have failed.

Combining Glaucoma And Cataract Surgery

Glaucoma and cataracts (clouding of the lens) are both common among older persons. In people who have both conditions, surgeons often perform both cataract and glaucoma surgeries at the same time.

However, while the vision lost due to cataracts can be restored, vision lost because of glaucoma is gone forever.

 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.