Alternative Surgical Approaches to Glaucoma Surgeries

Glaucoma is a unique eye disease in that there are a myriad of treatment options. The reason for this may be that glaucoma develops very slowly, so it is difficult for researchers to determine whether new treatments will be more effective than existing ones. New treatments require multiple studies over several years, so advancements and innovative approaches are painstaking and time-intensive.

Traditional glaucoma surgeries, such as trabeculectomy and shunts, have high degrees of success when it comes to lowering intraocular pressure (IOP), but they are accompanied by some risks. There are several surgical methods that offer exciting alternatives to traditional surgery, but many glaucoma patients have not heard of these treatments. Although less is known about these techniques, they offer many advantages.

Canaloplasty is designed to restore the eye’s natural drainage system and provide sustained reduction to intraocular pressure for open-angle glaucoma. The procedure enlarges the eye’s natural drainage to restore the natural irrigation. It is less invasive than other surgical procedures because it does not go into the eye but works on just the surface tissue without creating a permanent full thickness hole in the eye.

Ex-PRESS mini-shunt
About the size of a grain of rice, the mini-shunt is a simple method of filtration for open-angle glaucoma.  It lowers eye pressure by routing eye fluid from the anterior chamber of the eye.  The shunt diverts fluid through a small tube to the outside of the eye to maintain intraocular pressure.

Trabectome is a probe-like device that is inserted into the anterior chamber of the eye through the cornea. It opens the eye’s drainage system and is effective to treat many forms of open-angle glaucoma. This surgery can be performed as a single surgery without cataract removal, but most often it is combined with cataract surgery


This is a microscopic shunt device that bypasses the natural drain for the eye called the trabecular meshwork. It is done at the time of cataract surgery and has proven to be very safe.

If you do not have advanced glaucoma and if you do not require a very low target intraocular pressure, one of these new surgical methods may be appropriate for you. Talk to your ophthalmologist to determine what course of treatment is best for your specific case of glaucoma. You and your doctor can work together to customize the best treatment plan to preserve your vision (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).


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