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Deep sclerectomy

Find out about how deep sclerectomy can be used to treat glaucoma, and what to expect from your recovery

A deep sclerectomy is a type of glaucoma surgery which removes some of the sclera – the white of your eye – to allow fluid to drain and reduce the eye pressure.   

The optic nerve carries images from the retina (light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) to the brain, allowing you to see. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve where it leaves the eye.  

Glaucoma can be caused by an increase in pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure. Fluid (aqueous) is constantly made in the eye and drains out slowly into the bloodstream. The pressure in the eye can increase if the fluid does not drain out enough.  

Most people don’t know there is a problem in the early stages because it is usually painless, and side vision tends to be affected first. Sometimes the optic nerve can be damaged, even though the pressure in your eye is within the normal range.   

At Circle Health, our specialist Consultants offer fast diagnosis and will create a bespoke treatment plan based on your individual needs.  

You can use eye drops to lower the pressure in your eyes, but all glaucoma medications carry the possibility of side effects and allergic reactions. There is also the possibility that they cannot bring the eye pressure problem completely under control.

Laser treatment may be suitable for you, but often the condition comes back. Laser treatment can result in the development of cataracts, but a deep sclerectomy lasts longer and carries a lower risk of cataracts.

If you don’t have glaucoma treatment, your optic nerve will become increasingly damaged. If you leave it untreated you are likely to lose vision in your eye. The results of a deep sclerectomy will not improve your vision but may stop it getting worse.   

You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your eye and the surrounding area around it. Your surgeon will then remove some of the sclera, to create a membrane a little like a trapdoor, which fluid can drain from. This should reduce the pressure in the eye.

They will then secure the area with tiny stitches and cover the membrane with the conjunctiva, which is the transparent tissue on the eye. 

A deep sclerectomy is an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the same day. Your eye will be covered up with a pad overnight, and you’ll need to take antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

Recovery varies between patients, but you should be able to continue with your usual daily activities quite soon. Your vision might be blurry for up to six weeks after surgery, and it’s recommended that you avoid strenuous activity, eye make-up, swimming and contact sports during healing. 

There are some risks and side effects involved with glaucoma surgery, including:

  • Pain;
  • Bleeding after surgery;
  • Infection, which can result in blurred vision or even permanent loss of vision;
  • Severe bleeding inside the eye during surgery which may cause permanent loss of vision;
  • Too much fluid draining, which is very common. If it does not settle, you may need a further operation and
  • Failure of the operation. You may need eye drops or further treatment to control the pressure.

It is important to attend your follow-up appointments so your Consultant can monitor your recovery.

As with any eye operation, there is the possibility of reduced vision as a result. This is not desired, of course, but uncontrolled glaucoma can lead to reduction in vision. The decision to carry out a deep sclerectomy is always a balance of risk versus benefit for the individual patient.

Our 500 trusted eyecare experts offer personalised care at over 40 Circle Health centres across the UK.   

Our experts in affordable eye care offer fast access to treatment in a safe and comfortable environment.   

Your deep sclerectomy treatment will provide the best possible outcome, along with excellent value for money, to help improve your quality of life.

What you pay will depend on the exact treatment you need. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation.