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Glaucoma (trabeculectomy) surgery

If glaucoma medicines and laser treatment haven't helped to treat your glaucoma, you may need glaucoma (trabeculectomy) surgery

A trabeculectomy is a kind of surgery to treat glaucoma.  

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images from the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) to the brain, allowing you to see.  Glaucoma is serious and can damage your eyesight, even leading to blindness.   

Glaucoma is often caused by an increase in pressure in the eye. 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.  

A trabeculectomy treats glaucoma by draining out some of the fluid that has built up. It aims to reduce your eye pressure and prevent your vision from getting worse.   

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

Most people don’t know there is a problem in the early stages of glaucoma because it is usually painless, and the 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.

You can use eye drops to lower the pressure. If they do not work, surgery is usually recommended. Laser treatment may be suitable for you but often the condition comes back.

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

A trabeculectomy involves draining out some of the fluid in your eye to lower the pressure. Your surgeon will make a small draining hole in the lining of the white of your eye. The fluid will drain out into a space in the outer lining of your eye and collect just under your eyelid.  

The operation usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour.  

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;
  • Bleeding at the front of the eye, which makes vision worse. This is very common and usually settles after a week;
  • Too much fluid draining, which is very common and usually settles on its own. If it does not settle, you may need a further operation;
  • Developing a cataract, which is very common and can be easily treated with cataract surgery
  • Failure of the operation. This usually happens if the small hole made to drain the fluid becomes scarred and blocked. You may need eye drops or further treatment to control the pressure.

This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your Consultant for more information.

You should be able to go home a few hours after the operation. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay overnight. Remember, you won’t be able to drive home after the operation and you should not drive until you can read a number plate from 20.5m away.   

Your surgeon will need to check your eye the day after the operation, and you will need to return the clinic several times during the first few weeks after your operation.  

Stitches may be loosened or removed so the fluid can drain better. Your surgeon may inject anti-scarring drugs into the surface of your eye. These procedures are normally painless and are performed after your eye has been numbed with anaesthetic eye drops.  

You should be able to return to work a few weeks after the operation. For the first four to six weeks avoid swimming as this will expose your eye to infection.   

Our 500 trusted eye care 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 glaucoma surgery 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.

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