What to Expect with Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma is a chronic and progressive disease that causes deterioration of the optic nerves. These are the nerves that carry visual messages of what the eye sees to the brain. Glaucoma is caused and worsened by pressure inside the eye that is too high for these nerves to survive, and if untreated, the condition can lead to blindness. The treatment for glaucoma is to lower this pressure to prevent or slow continued damage. Here's a look at what to expect if you're getting glaucoma surgery.
Benefits of Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma surgery reduces the pressure in your eyes. If the condition is caught early enough, surgery can help you avoid any irreversible damage to the optic nerve. The goal of glaucoma surgery is to slow the progression of the disease.
Glaucoma surgery has more benefits than risks. Over 98% of patients have a successful experience. In one survey, patients were assessed 20 years after their glaucoma surgery, and over 90% still had positive results. In fact, only a third of those people even needed to take glaucoma medication again. The rest were medicine free with no symptoms of glaucoma.
Preparing for Glaucoma Surgery
Usually, you know about your surgery about a month in advance, so you should have time to arrange a ride to and from the clinic and talk with your eye surgeon about any questions or concerns. You may also need to have a physical exam with your primary care provider to ensure that your health is optimal for the procedure, though at New Vision Surgical Center, we have a nurse anesthetist to see you and assess your health history and current physical condition to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo mild anesthesia and the surgery itself. Your eye surgeon will let you know if this additional step is necessary. If you are taking blood thinners, you may need to stop them for a few days or a week before the procedure, and you shouldn't smoke for three to four days before the procedure. All of this will be covered in your pre-operative evaluation with the nursing staff at New Vision Eye Center.
The Process of Glaucoma Surgery
Glaucoma surgery involves making a very small incision to drain fluid and release pressure on the eye. The surgeon may insert shunts or implants into the eye to replace the eye's drainage system. Typically, the surgery takes 45 minutes to an hour.
Patients usually do not experience any discomfort during or after surgery. However, some experience mild sensations that are uncomfortable, similar to what would occur after any surgery. However, this discomfort is not so severe that pain medications would be needed.
After the Surgery
Recovery time varies per patient, but most heal within three to six weeks after surgery. After surgery, expect to devote the first day or two to recovery time. Stay home and relax. Avoid heavy lifting, exercise, and other strenuous activity, including stressful work. After a couple of days, you may resume driving.
Make sure that you don't rub or scratch your eyes after glaucoma surgery. It's common for vision to be a bit blurry and for your eyes to sometimes feel itchy. Be sure to take all prescribed eye drops. They help both deter any itchy or scratchy sensations and to avoid developing an infection.
If you'd like to speak to us about your vision issues, or schedule an appointment for glaucoma surgery, please call us at 772-257-8700 or reach out to us online. We look forward to helping you see clearly again!