The optic nerve carries images from the retina to the brain, allowing you to see. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve in the area where it leaves your eye.
Glaucoma can be caused by an increase in pressure in the eye when the fluid that is made in the eye does not drain properly. Sometimes the optic nerve can be damaged, even though the pressure in your eye is within the normal range. Left untreated glaucoma can cause loss of vision.
How is glaucoma treated?
Your GP will refer you to a Consultant Ophthalmologist. Depending on the extent of your glaucoma they may begin treatment with eye drops that lower the pressure in your eye. If conservative treatment is not successful your consultant may recommend surgery.
What happens during glaucoma surgery?
The method of surgery used will depend on your particular situation. Your consultant may use laser eye surgery to help relieve the pressure in your eye or to create a new channel for fluid to drain from your eye. Laser eye surgery is usually performed under local anaesthetic and is done on an outpatient basis meaning you can go home the day of the procedure.
Following laser glaucoma surgery you will need to use eye drops to maintain the pressure in your eye.
If laser surgery does not maintain the pressure in your eye your consultant may recommend a trabeculectomy. A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes between three quarters of an hour and an hour and a quarter.
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.
Going home after glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy)
You should be able to go home a few hours after your operation.
Your surgeon will need to see you several times in clinic during the first few weeks after your operation and may perform minor adjustments.
Most people will need about two weeks off work. Be sure and discuss this with your consultant
Do not swim, lift heavy objects or bend so your head is below your waist until you have checked with your surgeon.
As with any procedure there could be complications.
General complications may include:
Specific complications may include:
- Bleeding in the front of your eye
- Inflammation in the other eye
- Too much fluid draining
- Increase in eye pressure
- Developing cataract
- Reduced vision over time
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