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Trabeculectomy

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Consultants who perform this procedure

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Why would I need a trabeculectomy?

You might require a trabeculectomy if you have glaucoma (a condition where fluid builds up in the eye, increasing pressure, and ultimately damages the optic nerve).

What symptoms does a trabeculectomy address?

A trabeculectomy should relieve the pressure on your eyes, and generally after the surgery, you will no longer need to take your eye drops.

This procedure will help to prevent future vision loss, but it cannot reverse any vision that you have already lost.

When should you speak to your specialist about a trabeculectomy?

If you have glaucoma and have undergone other treatments that you feel have not been effective, or if you feel that your glaucoma is negatively affecting your day-to-day life, you might want to consider speaking to your specialist about the possibility of undergoing a trabeculectomy.

How is a trabeculectomy performed?

A trabeculectomy can take anywhere from 40-80 minutes and it is most often performed under a local anaesthetic, but occasionally it can be done under a general anaesthetic.

During the procedure, the surgeon will make a new drainage channel from the white of your eye so that excess fluid is able to escape, lessening the pressure on the eye.

Anti-scarring medication is often used on the eye to help ensure that scar tissue doesn’t form and block the new drainage channel that has been created.

What is the recovery for a trabeculectomy?

The recovery from a trabeculectomy can depend on a variety of factors, and you should discuss this with your surgeon.

You will likely go home on the same day as your surgery. Your eye will be red and swollen, but this is normal and will fade within a few weeks or months.

You will be given both anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory drops that your healthcare team can advise you on how to use, along with a protective eye guard that needs to be worn while you sleep.

You should generally plan to take 2 weeks off of work after your surgery, and should avoid doing strenuous activities during that time.

You and your surgeon will discuss your plan for recovery prior to your trabeculectomy.

 Are there any risks/complications associated with a trabeculectomy?

 As with any medical procedure, it is possible for risks or complications to arise. It is best that you speak with your specialist or surgeon about how best to avoid any adverse reactions.

Some complications that have been associated with the procedure are:

  • Reduced vision
  • Low eye pressure
  • The need for further surgeries (generally because scar tissue has formed, or because the position of your eyelid has changed)
  • Infection
  • Bleeding inside the eye
  • Total loss of vision
  • Increased chance of developing a cataract

How can I prepare for a trabeculectomy? 

Prior to your trabeculectomy, you should discuss the preparations you should make with your surgeon, as they can vary depending on the person.

Are there alternatives for a trabeculectomy?

There are some alternatives that you might explore rather than undergoing a trabeculectomy, including:

  • Eye drops
  • Laser treatment
  • Tablets
  • Alternative surgeries
  • Viscocanalostomy – part of the sclera (the white of your eye) is removed
  • Deep sclerctomy – the widening of your eye’s drainage tubes
  • Trabeculotomy – an electronic current removes part of the drainage tube in your eye
  • Aqueous drainage tube operation – adding a shunt to the eye to improve drainage
  • Trabecular stent bypass – a small tube is placed in your eye to improve drainage
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