Eye Surgery Glaucoma

In the U.S., nearly three million people have glaucoma, and more than 100,000 people are blind from glaucoma. In fact, while glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in adult Americans age 18 to 65, it is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans.

For some, glaucoma surgery is necessary to control intraocular eye pressure and to prevent damage to the optic nerve and blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease characterized by high intraocular eye pressure. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve, potentially leading to blindness.

Types of glaucoma include:

  • acute glaucoma (in which a shift in the position of the iris blocks the exit of fluid)
  • absolute glaucoma (the final stage of glaucoma in which the patient is blind)
  • childhood glaucoma (glaucoma that develops in infancy, early childhood or adolescence)
  • developmental glaucoma (glaucoma that is caused when fluid fails to drain properly from the eye)
  • primary glaucoma (glaucoma that can’t be linked to any cause or risk factor)
  • secondary glaucoma (glaucoma that develops as a result of injury or other medical condition).

There are usually no signs or early symptoms of glaucoma. In fact, most people don’t even know they have it until they experience some level of vision loss. However, having regular eye exams is an excellent way to detect glaucoma in its early stages before vision loss becomes a problem.

Trabeculectomy Glaucoma Surgery

What Causes Glaucoma?

Although people of any age can develop glaucoma, there are certain factors that increase your chances of developing glaucoma, including the following:

  • Diabetics are prone to glaucoma and other eye problems, such as cataracts.
  • Heredity plays a factor in glaucoma. People who have a family history of glaucoma are more likely to develop it.
  • High blood pressure can contribute to your risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Race plays a factor in glaucoma. Those who are African, Asian or Native American are more likely to get glaucoma.
  • Sex seems to play a role in glaucoma, as women are three times more likely to get glaucoma than men.

If you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma, tell your eye doctor and have eye exams on a regular basis.

Treatments for Glaucoma

Glaucoma can be treated in several ways. While some people can take glaucoma medications, others need to have glaucoma surgery. Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, ongoing glaucoma research means that possible cures and additional treatment options are around the corner.

Types of Glaucoma Surgery

The goal of glaucoma surgery is to reduce the pressure the aqueous humor fluid places on the optic nerve. To achieve this, surgeons must create a way for the fluid in the eye to drain.

There are two types of glaucoma surgery:

  • Conventional surgery: In conventional glaucoma surgery, the doctor makes one or more incisions in the eye to allow the fluid in the eye to drain.
  • Laser surgery: There are several types of laser surgery for glaucoma, including:
    • Cyclophotocoagulation: This procedure uses a laser to freeze the part of the eye that produces aqueous humor. By reducing the production of fluid, pressure within the eye is relieved.
    • Iridotomy: In this procedure, a surgeon uses a laser to make a small hole in the iris to allow fluid to flow more freely in the eye.
    • Trabeculoplasty: In this common type of laser surgery for glaucoma, a surgeon uses a laser to create holes in the drainage area of the eye, allowing fluid to drain more freely.

Regardless of the type of glaucoma surgery you have, you can usually go home the day of surgery, as glaucoma surgery is considered outpatient surgery. You can usually resume your normal activities within a day or two.

After surgery, you will have follow-up visits with your doctor to check the pressure of your eye and to make sure that the surgery was effective.

Side Effects of Glaucoma Surgery

As with any type of surgery, glaucoma surgery has associated risks and complications. Some of these possible complications include:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • loss of vision.

You will need to examine all the possible risks of glaucoma surgery with your doctor before undergoing the procedure you choose.