Glaucoma is a degenerative disease that if left untreated can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in gradual vision loss and eventual blindness. Damage to the optic nerve due to glaucoma is usually caused by an elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Clear fluid, called aqueous humor, circulates through the eye to provide nourishment to the tissue and applies pressure to help maintain the shape of the eye.
Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent, but can be prevented with early detection and treatment. Glaucoma management is usually a lifelong process that requires frequent monitoring and constant treatment. Since there is no way to determine if glaucoma is under control based on how a person feels, doctor visits should be on a regular basis.
Treatment of Glaucoma
Treatment concentrates on lowering the pressure inside the eye to prevent optic nerve damage. Eye drops are most commonly used to control glaucoma, however, they can be very expensive, have unwanted side effects, and may need to be taken for the rest of your life. If non-surgical methods fail to decrease pressure, surgery may be required.
Your doctor may recommend performing a trabeculectomy surgery to create an alternate route for the draining of the fluid inside your eye. This procedure is reimbursed by Medicare and other insurance providers, which minimizes your out-of-pocket expenses.
How the Procedure Works
The purpose of a trabeculectomy is to create a new drainage pathway for the fluid to escape the eye and lower the eye’s pressure. The procedure is generally performed in a surgery center or hospital under local or general anesthesia and mild sedation.
Your surgeon will create a tiny “pocket” between the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane covering the white surface of the eye) and the sclera (the white surface of the eye). The fluid can then flow from the back of the eye through the “pocket” to the front chamber of the eye, reducing the intra-ocular pressure.
Later that day or the following day, your doctor will want to examine the surgical site and check the eye’s pressure. You will be prescribed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops to control the risk of an infection or inflammation. You may or may not be required to continue glaucoma medications following the procedure, depending on the pressure inside your eye.