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How does incisional (filtering) surgery help treat glaucoma?

Laura C. Fine, MD
Ophthalmology
Ophthalmologists use incisional surgery for glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that cause vision loss through damage to the optic nerve) when medication or laser surgery is unsuccessful in treating open-angle glaucoma. Conventional incisional surgery, also called filtering or trabeculectomy surgery, creates a new drainage system when the trabecular meshwork is not functioning properly.

Filtering surgery (i.e. trabeculectomy)is successful in 70% to 90% of patients, and the other 10% to 20% can usually undergo further surgery, which typically leads to adequate improvement of pressure. Most patients can eliminate or reduce their use of glaucoma medication after surgery.

Filtering surgery is an involved procedure, so ask your ophthalmologist to refer you to an eye surgeon who has extensive experience and skill. The goal of this surgery is the development of a filtering bleb, an elevation of the conjunctiva (transparent membrane lining the inner surface of the eyelids). Filtering blebs may fail to form, may leak, and may be susceptible to infection. The surgery may also lead to blurred or reduced vision or the development of cataract.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.