3 Types of Surgery for Glaucoma: Laser, Trabeculectomy, Electrocautery

by | Jan 1, 2019 | Health

Before choosing which surgery you should have to treat glaucoma, it is important to understand exactly what glaucoma is. Glaucoma is a common condition that damages the optic nerve of the eye and may require glaucoma surgery.

The optic nerve transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. As time progresses, the condition will worsen, potentially causing permanent loss of vision if left untreated.

Many people with glaucoma do not show early symptoms, but it is hereditary, so if your family has a history with glaucoma, then you are more likely to develop it.

Because there are no early symptoms, it is important to see your eye doctor at least once every couple of years. It is recommended that people over the age of 40 with a family history of glaucoma see their optometrist every year for a full eye exam. The optometrist will be able to identify any development of not only glaucoma but also other problems with the eyes.

What Causes Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by a liquid build up in the eye. The fluid, aqueous humor, is supposed to flow out of the eye through a channel, but if the channel is blocked, then the liquid will build up and damage the optic nerve.

Doctors are unsure as to why the blockage occurs, but they know it is often passed down through genetics.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main kinds of glaucoma: Open angle and angle closure.

Open angle glaucoma, also known as wide angle glaucoma, involves problems with the drain structure in your eyes. This drain structure is called the trabecular meshwork. Normally, the fluid should be flowing out of this part of your eye. When this fluid cannot flow properly, you have open angle glaucoma.

Angle closure glaucoma, also called narrow angle glaucoma, is when your eye is not draining liquid properly because the drain space between your cornea and iris is too narrow. This lack of space allows pressure to build up and will cloud your vision.

How to Treat Glaucoma

If the damage caused by glaucoma is not severe, then the doctor will give you eye drops. You must follow the doctor’s instructions to alleviate the damage. The eye drops will open up the passageway for the fluid to flow, or it will increase the outflow of the fluid. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but it can be stopped and treated if action is taken early. If glaucoma is found in its later stage, then surgery may be required.

1. Laser Surgery
Your doctor may perform Laser Trabeculoplasty if you have open angle glaucoma.

When you first walk in for laser surgery, you will be given eye drops to numb your eyes, and then you will sit in front of a slit lamp that has the surgical machine attached.

You will also wear special contact lenses that will keep your eyelids open and aid the laser’s aim.

The doctor will point the laser at your trabecular meshwork, where the fluid is supposed to drain and release the buildup of fluid. He will point the laser anywhere from 50 to 100 different spots depending on what is necessary.

Laser Iridotomy is used to treat patients with angle closure glaucoma. The doctor will use the laser to make a small hole in your iris. This hole will allow the fluid to travel from behind the iris into the trabecular meshwork where it will flow out of your eye.

2. Trabeculectomy
A trabeculectomy involves the doctor making a small incision on the white part of your eye. This incision will help drain some of the fluid. You will be given medicine before the surgery to prevent any pain or discomfort and to prevent scar tissue from forming.

3. Electrocautery
This minimally invasive procedure involves using a heated device that makes a tiny cut in the drainage tubes of your eye. The heat will ease fluid buildup and pressure.

Final Thoughts

Glaucoma is not something to take lightly. Do not take your vision for granted as glaucoma can cause you to go blind. Therefore, it is essential to visit your optometrist yearly. The quicker glaucoma is caught, the less invasive treatment may be.

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