Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the US. With no symptoms and no pain, millions of people don’t even know they have it. The major known cause of glaucoma is a relative increase in intraocular pressure. Aqueous fluid is made continuously and circulates throughout the eye before draining through channels in the eye’s anterior chamber. When too much fluid is made, or it is not drained sufficiently, the IOP rises.
Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, medicine, laser surgery, traditional surgery, or a combination of these methods. The goal of any treatment is to prevent loss of vision, as vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible. The good news is that glaucoma can be managed if detected early and that with medical and/or surgical treatment, most people with glaucoma will not lose their sight
Most glaucoma patients are successfully treated with medicines (eye drops). However, if your glaucoma is still not controlled, you may be a candidate for surgery.
A small flap is made in the white of the eye. A reservoir is created in the thin clear coating covering the white of the eye. The excess fluid can then drain through the flap into the reservoir. From here, the excess fluid is absorbed into the lymph and blood vessel around the eye. After the reservoir is carefully constructed, the incision is closed with tiny stitches (stitches may later be removed post-operatively to increase drainage).
A small, silicone tube connected to a valve is placed in the eye through a tiny incision. The shunt drains excess fluid into a small reservoir on the surface of the eye.
The argon laser makes tiny, evenly spaced burns in the trabecular meshwork. This doesn’t provide new drainage holes but stimulates natural drainage from the eye. ALT has a permanent effect for some patients – for others, the effect may wane after several years.
A focused beam of light is used to create a hole on the outer edge of the iris. This hole allows fluid to flow between the front part of the eye and the area behind the iris, decreasing buildup of fluid behind the iris and treating or preventing narrow-angle glaucoma.