Surgery is not always necessary to treat
glaucoma. Medicines can often control the pressure in
the eyes, preventing further vision loss and blindness. Medicine will usually
be tried first before surgery is considered.
Doctors can use
either a surgical cutting tool or a very focused beam of light, called a laser,
to perform surgery for glaucoma.
Laser surgery is usually tried first when glaucoma
medicines do not lower the pressure in the eyes (intraocular pressure, or IOP). If laser surgery does not help, your doctor may try
Treatment of open-angle glaucoma -- the most common form of the disease -- requires lowering the eye's pressure by increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing the production of the fluid. Medications can accomplish both of these goals. Surgery and laser treatments are directed at improving the eye's aqueous drainage.
If not diagnosed early, open-angle glaucoma may significantly damage vision and even cause blindness. That is why it's so important to have your eye doctor test you regularly...
closed-angle glaucoma. Laser treatment can create an
opening in the colored part of the eye (iris) that will let fluid drain from
the eye. People who have had closed-angle glaucoma in one eye usually need to
have laser treatment on the other eye to prevent the same condition from
developing. Also, people who have narrow
drainage angles may need laser treatment to prevent
acute closed-angle glaucoma. If laser treatment is not successful, then
conventional surgery, such as surgical iridectomy or trabeculectomy, would be
Open-angle glaucoma, if the pressure in
the eyes stays high or if damage to the optic nerve continues despite
medication. Laser treatment may be needed early on to treat open-angle
glaucoma, especially in people who have very high intraocular pressure and
severe glaucoma. You may have laser surgery before you try medicine. In some
cases, early surgery in open-angle glaucoma may be more effective than eyedrops
at reducing the pressure in the eyes and preventing
congenital glaucoma. They may need surgery as soon as
possible to prevent blindness.
The primary goal of surgery for glaucoma is to preserve
Maintaining the health of the optic
Reducing the pressure in the eyes by opening blocked
drainage angles or creating a new opening that fluid (aqueous humor) can
flow through to leave the eye.
In some cases surgery may be done to relieve pain caused by
There are three basic types of surgery for glaucoma in
Surgery to increase drainage of fluid from the eye
This type of surgery involves making a trapdoor that allows fluid to
drain from the eye. The surgeon can use either a laser or a surgical cutting
tool to do this. In severe glaucoma, surgery also may involve putting in a
filtering device (seton), usually made of plastic, that drains fluid away from
the front part of the eye to a place where it can drain out of the eye. These
procedures are used to treat open-angle glaucoma and long-term (chronic)
removes a piece of tissue to allow fluid to drain from the
Tube-shunt surgery (seton glaucoma surgery) places a
tube in the eye to allow fluid to drain.