Trabeculectomy, also known as glaucoma filter surgery, is a surgical procedure that removes part of the trabecular meshwork of the eye in order to increase the drainage of fluid. A trabeculectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures used to treat open-angle and chronic closed-angle glaucoma. A new drainage passage is created during the procedure by creating a bypass opening in the sclera (the white part of the eye) diverting the fluid to a space outside the eye between the sclera and conjunctiva (the outer covering of the eye).   This is a bypass procedure designed to lower intraocular pressure.  This serves to create a system for bypassing the blocked drainage channels and encourages fluid drainage and reduces eye pressure and the dependence on topical eye drops.  The purpose of the surgery is to reduce the rate of glaucoma.  

The Trabeculectomy Procedure

Glaucoma filter surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require a hospital stay. The procedure usually takes 1 hour to perform.  Close followup is required following trabeculectomy and your doctor will review this with you.  There will be different eye drops that you use after trabeculectomy including an antibiotic and an steroid eye drop.  Activity will be somewhat limited for the first few weeks after glaucoma filter surgery, and specific restrictions will be discussed with the patient.

Complications of Glaucoma Filter Surgery

Every surgery has risks and benefits.  The benefits are to slow down the glaucoma process and reduce the dependance on glaucoma drops.   While rare, complications may include:

  • Eye pressure that is lower than normal
  • Formation of a cataract
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring, necessitating additional surgery
  • Infection
  • Inflammation

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