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What is tube surgery for glaucoma?

Tube surgery is one surgical approach to treating glaucoma. Also called a shunt or an implant, the tube is designed to allow the aqueous humor to flow out of the eye and lower the intraocular pressure. Several tube designs are available, but most consist of a small tube that is inserted into the front of the eye. The tube then connects to a plate that is sewn onto the surface of the eye. A small bump develops over the plate where the aqueous collects in a reservoir. Some tubes are hollow, while others have valves to stop the flow of the fluid if the eye pressure is too low.

Tube surgery is one effective surgical approach for intraocular pressure control. Your ophthalmologist will explain the risks of the surgery. Potential complications include bleeding in the eye or infection. The eye pressure may be too low for a period of time after surgery, or too high. The tube plate may cause double vision because of its proximity to the eye muscles. The plate or the tube may cause erosion of the conjunctiva, which covers the tube and the plate. The tube might bump against the internal surface of the cornea and cause swelling. The first tube surgeries were done in the 1960s, and thousands are performed each year. Fortunately, glaucoma is a treatable disease.

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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.