Glaucoma surgery lowers intraocular pressure in the eye and prevents further damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss or blindness. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60.
Your ophthalmologist can perform glaucoma surgery on an outpatient basis – meaning a hospital stay is unnecessary. If you suffer from glaucoma, contact Wilkinson Eye Center to learn more about these procedures.
What Is Glaucoma Surgery Used For?
We perform glaucoma surgery to lower the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) – the primary modifiable risk factor for glaucoma. By reducing IOP, glaucoma surgery can help slow down or prevent further damage to the optic nerve and preserve vision in individuals with glaucoma. Glaucoma surgery may be necessary if eye drops and/or medication
Additionally, glaucoma surgery can sometimes be done in conjunction with cataract surgery. If you know you need both cataract and glaucoma surgery, speak to your doctor at Wilkinson Eye Center to determine if you are a candidate to have these procedures done in tandem.
Types of Glaucoma Surgery
We offer several options for glaucoma surgery at Wilkinson Eye Center, including:
A trabeculectomy is a traditional glaucoma surgery where a small flap is created in the sclera to allow aqueous humor to drain out of the eye and reduce intraocular pressure. A small reservoir, called a bleb, is formed under the conjunctiva to collect the fluid. This surgery effectively lowers IOP but can have a risk of complications such as infection or scarring.
Glaucoma Drainage Devices
These tiny implants are placed in the eye to provide a new pathway for the aqueous humor to flow out of the eye and reduce intraocular pressure. The most commonly used devices are the Ahmed valve and the Baerveldt implant. These implants are usually reserved for cases where trabeculectomy has failed or is unlikely to be successful.
Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT)
SLT is a laser procedure used to treat open-angle glaucoma by applying laser energy to the trabecular meshwork – a tissue in the eye responsible for the drainage of aqueous humor. SLT can improve drainage and lower intraocular pressure by increasing the permeability of the trabecular meshwork without causing tissue damage.
Endoscopic Cyclophotocoagulation (ECP)
ECP is a laser procedure that uses an endoscope to direct laser energy to the ciliary body – a tissue in the eye that produces aqueous humor. The laser destroys the ciliary body, reducing the amount of aqueous humor produced and lowering intraocular pressure.
Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS)
These are newer, less invasive procedures used in conjunction with cataract surgery or as a standalone procedure. MIGS techniques typically involve creating a small incision in the eye to allow for the implantation of small devices or stents that increase the outflow of aqueous humor and lower intraocular pressure. Examples of MIGS devices include the iStent, Hydrus, and the Xen implant.
This minimally invasive glaucoma procedure involves implanting a small biodegradable rod containing the medication bimatoprost into the eye. The medication is released slowly over several months, reducing intraocular pressure and delaying the need for additional eye drops. The implant is typically used for patients with open-angle glaucoma who have not responded to other treatments.
Am I a Candidate For Glaucoma Surgery?
There are several reasons why glaucoma surgery may be necessary or recommended, including:
- Medications are ineffective – In some cases, eye drops or other medications are not effective in controlling IOP. This can occur if a patient experiences side effects or if their body does not respond well to the medication. In these cases, glaucoma surgery may be recommended to help control IOP.
- IOP is dangerously high – If IOP is extremely high and there is a risk of damage to the optic nerve, glaucoma surgery may be recommended to quickly and effectively lower IOP.
- Advanced glaucoma – If glaucoma has progressed to an advanced stage, where the optic nerve has suffered significant damage and visual field loss has occurred, glaucoma surgery may be recommended to help preserve remaining vision and prevent further damage.
- As a primary treatment – In some cases, glaucoma surgery may be recommended as a primary treatment option, particularly in patients with severe or advanced glaucoma, or if there is a high risk of vision loss.
- Desire to reduce medication use – Glaucoma surgery may also be recommended for patients who wish to reduce their dependence on medications or for patients who cannot administer eye drops due to physical or cognitive limitations.
The decision to undergo glaucoma surgery should be made in consultation with an experienced eye surgeon and based on an individual's medical history, glaucoma severity, and other relevant factors.
Allowing glaucoma to develop without treatment results in vision loss or blindness. If glaucoma is detected, one of the treatment options listed above may reduce or prevent vision loss.
Consult with your ophthalmologist at Wilkinson Eye Center to see if glaucoma surgery is an option for you.