Whether to have glaucoma surgery is a joint decision
between you and your doctor. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits
of surgery for you. Take this form(What is a PDF document?) with you. The following are some questions that you may have about
When should I have surgery for glaucoma?
to this question depends on a number of things, including whether you have
been using medicines to treat your glaucoma. Other things to consider in
making the decision will include whether the pressure in your eyes has remained
high and your vision has gotten worse despite treatment with medicine.
Discuss with your doctor all the options for treating your glaucoma. Get a
second opinion if you are not sure why or if you need surgery.
Where should I go for surgery?
Where you should go
for surgery depends on what type of surgery you need. Some procedures, such as
laser trabeculoplasty, can be done in the doctor's office or without being
admitted to the hospital. If you need conventional surgery, you will need the
procedure done in a hospital or walk-in (ambulatory) surgical center.
What type of surgery should I have?
Surgeries for glaucoma can be used to increase the drainage of fluid from
the eye, prevent closure of the drainage angle, or decrease the amount of fluid
produced by the eye. When treatment with medicine fails to lower the pressure
in the eyes, trabeculectomy surgery may be offered.
If you have both open- and closed-angle glaucoma, you may need more than one kind of procedure.
What kinds of anesthetic are used?
Most laser treatments for glaucoma need a local anesthetic
that is applied to the eye. For some surgeries, the
anesthetic may instead be injected behind or around the eyeball (retrobulbar or
peribulbar anesthesia). General anesthetic,
which puts you to sleep, is not often needed for eye surgery.
What are the risks of surgery?
The risks vary for
each type of surgery or laser treatment.
Will I have pain after surgery?
procedures for glaucoma, there is only mild discomfort. Severe pain after
surgery for glaucoma may be a sign of complications.
Will I be able to stop using eyedrops for glaucoma after surgery?
Many people will need to continue using medicine for
glaucoma after successful surgery. But you may be able to cut down on the
number of drops or amount of medicines you use for glaucoma after
How long is the surgery good for?
Some types of
surgery, such as iridectomy, last for life. But if complications develop
or glaucoma gets worse, additional surgery or treatment may be needed.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.