Los Angeles Glaucoma Group
Ophthalmologists & Glaucoma Specialists located in Los Angeles, Culver City, CA & Torrance, CA
Trabeculectomy Q & A
What is a trabeculectomy?
A trabeculectomy (also called “glaucoma filtration surgery”) is an eye surgery that treats glaucoma.
With glaucoma, fluid called aqueous humor does not drain properly from the front of the eye. Pressure builds up in the eye, which damages the optic nerve. If it is not treated, glaucoma leads to blindness. Sometimes eye drop medications and laser treatment do not lower the eye pressure enough. That is when your ophthalmologist may recommend surgery.
What is mitomycin C?
Mitomycin C is an anti-scarring medication used to significantly enhance the success of the surgery.
How is trabeculectomy performed?
Trabeculectomy is done in an outpatient surgery center or a hospital. The procedure usually takes about an hour or less. Here is what happens:
- You will be given anesthesia to numb your eye area and medicine to help you relax.
- Your eye surgeon will create a tiny flap in the sclera (white of your eye). This flap will then be covered by your conjunctiva and form a small bubble, known as a filtration bleb. This bleb is usually hidden under the upper eyelid and cannot be seen. Aqueous humor will be able to drain out of the eye through the flap and into the bleb. In the bleb, the fluid is absorbed naturally by your body, lowering eye pressure.
- Your surgeon may remove a small piece of the iris (the colored part of the eye) to keep the new pathway open. This procedure is called an iridectomy.
- After the procedure, you may have a patch put on your eye to wear overnight. Plan to have someone drive you home after the surgery. Your vision may be blurry for several weeks. You may also need an eyeglass or contact lens prescription once your eye heals (usually in 6-8 weeks).
- Your ophthalmologist will prescribe medicines to take for several weeks after the procedure. These medicines help prevent infection, discomfort, and scarring from the surgery. If the bleb scars, your surgery will not be successful and eye pressure will rise again.
- You should not bend over, strain, or lift heavy objects as you recover. You will be given specific instructions and tell you when you can do these things again.
- For a few weeks after surgery, you will need to see your ophthalmologist often for follow-up care.
Can I expect trabeculectomy surgery to improve my vision?
No. This surgery is designed to decrease your pressure to stabilize the vision at its current level. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no procedures that can reverse vision loss from glaucoma.
Your vision will likely be blurry after the surgery. Most patients recover their vision by 6 weeks, however, for some patients, it may take longer.
What are the risks of trabeculectomy?
Like any surgery, trabeculectomy has risks and complications. These include, but are not limited to:
- Bleeding in the eye
- Too much fluid leaves the eye causing eye pressure to be too low
- Droopy eyelid
- Vison loss
- Need for a second glaucoma surgery
Trabeculectomy is a type of surgery to treat glaucoma. With glaucoma, fluid does not drain properly from the front of the eye. Pressure builds in the eye, which damages the optic nerve.
Trabeculectomy creates a new way for the fluid inside of the eye to drain outside into the bloodstream. This helps reduce eye pressure.
Although there are risks to surgery, as described in this brochure, it is your ophthalmologist’s opinion that the risks of surgery are lower than the risk of vision loss if surgery is not performed.
It is important to note that reducing the eye pressure will not restore lost vision - the goal of surgery is to prevent further vision loss.