When medicated eye drops are no longer sufficient to manage your glaucoma, your doctor may suggest that you consider a surgical procedure to bring your intraocular pressure down to a safe level. There are several options available to you, and your best option will depend upon the type of glaucoma that you have.
One way to lower eye pressure is to create an opening in the eye to shunt aqueous humor (inner eye fluid) away from the eye. This procedure, called trabeculectomy, has been performed for over 50 years. A newer treatment called Ex-Press mini glaucoma shunt offers the same benefits as trabeculectomy, but the device measures just 3mm in length (about the size of a grain of rice). The area of drainage is completely covered by the eyelid and is generally not visible.
Many glaucoma patients also have cataracts, an age-related degenerative eye disease. If you are affected by both glaucoma and cataracts, you may be a candidate for micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). In the past, cataracts and glaucoma required two separate procedures, but MIGS allows your surgeon to treat both conditions simultaneously. After your surgeon has removed the cataract and inserted a customized intraocular lens (IOL), he or she will insert a microstent (about the size of an eyelash) to open up the drainage system of your eye and lower your eye pressure.
This procedure can be performed with or without cataract surgery. Trabectome is a new, probe-like device that your surgeon will insert through your cornea to open up the eye’s drainage system. The procedure only takes 5-15 minutes, but the tiny probe will deliver thermal energy to the filtration system of the eye, effectively opening the drain to increase fluid flow and lower eye pressure.
If medicated drops are not giving you the results that you need, it may be time to talk to your doctor about a surgical procedure to treat your glaucoma. These are only a few of the many options that are available to you. If you are seeking a qualified ophthalmologist to help you manage your glaucoma, use our Physician Locator tool to find an eye care center near you.