Knowing what to expect after glaucoma surgery can be just as important than knowing what happens during the surgery itself. After all, you won’t be spending your recovery time in a hospital.
As with all eye surgeries, it’s crucial that patients take good care of their eyes post-op in order to protect their eye health and vision. Learn what to expect after glaucoma surgery, the precautions you should take, and the tools that you’ll need for a successful recovery.
What are the different types of glaucoma surgery?
Glaucoma treatment focuses on lowering the intraocular pressure of the eyes caused by fluid buildup. There are glaucoma medications that can help lower intraocular pressure. But what if the body either stops responding to these medications or the patient has reached the maximum dosage? In these cases, glaucoma surgery is typically the next step patients take.
There are many types of glaucoma surgery, and knowing what to expect after glaucoma surgery will depend on which surgery is performed. The three glaucoma surgeries outlined here —selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT), Trabeculectomy, and shunts/implants — are some of the most common. Note that many patients with glaucoma and cataracts opt to have both surgeries at the same time.
- Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) is, as its name suggests, laser treatment for glaucoma, during which an ophthalmologist creates very small holes to relieve pressure with a laser aimed where the cornea and iris come together. Some patients worry: “Is the SLT surgery painful?” While having a laser pointed at your eye might sound scary, most SLT recipients report little to no discomfort during or after the surgery.
- During a trabeculectomy, an ophthalmologist creates a very small surgical incision to help drain the fluid and decrease the intraocular pressure. The results of this procedure tend to be more permanent than SLT.
- In this option, shunts or implants are surgically inserted into the eye. Once completed, these surgeries — including the iStent glaucoma and cataract surgery — allow for the shunt or implant to replace the eye’s damaged draining system, reducing intraocular pressure.
How long does it take to recover from glaucoma surgery?
Recovery time after glaucoma surgery varies per patient and per surgery, but most patients heal within 3 to 6 weeks. Reserve the day after the surgery for recovery time. During the rest of the recovery time, it’s generally recommended that postoperative glaucoma patients avoid strenuous activity. This type of activity includes heavy lifting, exercise, stressful work, etc.
Driving after glaucoma surgery
The day of and the day after surgery, it’s best to coordinate and pre-plan any rides and transportation that you will need. Beyond that, like recovery time, when you can begin driving after glaucoma surgery will depend on the patient or the surgery, with some patients reporting that they feel comfortable driving within a week, and others prefer to wait for up to two months.
Other necessary precautions
When asked about glaucoma surgery, we often receive questions such as, “Is glaucoma surgery dangerous?” and “Is there pain after glaucoma surgery?” Glaucoma surgery is a common procedure and regarded as safe with minimal pain during recovery.
However, there is some risk of infection after surgery. Some common precautions that most doctors recommend their patients take to avoid infection and other issues after glaucoma surgery include:
- Don’t rub or scratch your eyes. It’s common for vision to be blurry for a few days after glaucoma surgery, as well as for your eyes to sometimes feel itchy. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to rub or scratch your eyes.
- Take all prescribed eye drops. These eye drops can help soothe the aforementioned itchiness and stave off infections.
- Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity. While no one is asking you to spend the next few weeks on the couch, it’s wise to avoid the gym during recovery time. If your job requires heavy lifting, you may need to request additional time off of work or request other assignments while you recover.
- Avoid swimming pools. No matter how refreshing a dip in the water might sound, swimming pools, hot tubs, and saunas are breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria, and it’s best to avoid them during recovery.
What is the success rate of glaucoma surgery?
Glaucoma surgery has a high success rate. The vast majority of patients report that their eye pressure has gone down after glaucoma surgery, improving their eye health overall.
Thanks to Eye Center of Texas, thousands of Houstonians have received successful glaucoma surgery. In fact, over 275 Houston-area eye doctors refer their patients to Eye Center of Texas exclusively. To find out if cataract surgery is right for you, schedule an appointment today.