by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Glaucoma surgery lowers the pressure of the fluid inside the eye. This can prevent damage to the eye and loss of vision.
Reasons for Procedure
This procedure is done to treat glaucoma when other methods have not helped. It may prevent the disease from getting worse. It cannot undo damage that has already been done.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
Description of the Procedure
The surgery you will have will depends on the type and severity of your glaucoma. There are three types of surgery:
A focused beam of light will be used to make a small opening in the eye tissue to help drain fluid.
Laser surgeries for open angle glaucoma are:
Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) : A laser is used to make a small hole in the iris. This will allow fluid to flow more freely. This is done to treat closed and narrow angle glaucoma.
Incisional Surgery (also known as Filtering Surgery)
Incisional surgery uses tiny instruments to remove a piece from the wall of the eye. This creates a small hole that will allow fluid to drain. A valve may also be put in place.
Trabeculectomy is surgery to make a small flap in the outer white coating of the eye. It is done to treat open angle glaucoma.
Peripheral iridotomy (LPI) removes a small piece of the iris. This will allow fluid to drain. This surgery is done to treat closed and narrow angle glaucoma.
People who are not helped by other surgeries may have implants. A small tube or filament will be inserted into the front chamber of the eye. Fluid will drain through the tube or along the filament and into the area around the back end of the implant. The fluid collects here and is reabsorbed. Surgery types are:
How Long Will It Take?
About an hour
Will It Hurt?
Pain, discomfort, and blurry vision are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help.
At the Care Center
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
It will take 3 to 6 weeks to recover. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You will need to ask for help with daily activities, such as driving.
Problems to Look Out For
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have problems, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Glaucoma Research Foundation
National Eye Institute
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Angle-closure glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/angle-closure-glaucoma. Accessed March 22, 2021.
Glaucoma. National Eye Institute website. Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma. Accessed March 22, 2021.
Primary open-angle glaucoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/primary-open-angle-glaucoma. Accessed March 22, 2021.
Prum BE Jr, Rosenberg LF, et al; American Academy of Ophthalmology. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Ophthalmology. 2016 Jan;123(1):P41-P111.
Treating glaucoma. The Glaucoma Foundation website. Available at: https://glaucomafoundation.org/aboutglaucoma/treating-glaucoma. Accessed March 22, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD