Glaucoma is an eye disease that leads to damage of the optic nerve. In many cases, this condition causes an increase pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure. This can happen when the fluid in the eye does not circulate correctly. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. The goal of the surgery is to decrease the pressure of fluid in the eye. There are two main types of glaucoma:
Open-angle glaucoma: This condition is also known as wide-angle glaucoma. It is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drain of the eye, called the trabecular meshwork.
Angle-closure glaucoma: This condition is also called acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma. It is less common but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Drainage may be poor because the angle between the iris and the cornea (which is the location of a drainage channel for the eye) is too narrow. This is considered a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
Medical treatment using oral medications and eye drops are initiated to reduce the intraocular pressure. If this type of intervention is not adequate, surgery is the next step to avoid permanent damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma surgery has a high success rate. About 50% of patients no longer need medication after surgery and about 35-40% of those who still need medication have better control of their condition.