Putting An End To Pressure
Glaucoma is the term for a group of diseases typically resulting from elevated pressure in the eye. The heightened tension comes from fluid trapped in the eye, which then pushes on the optic nerve. If left untreated, these nerves can die, leading to blind spots in vision. To combat glaucoma, eye doctors may proscribe eye drops or look to surgical procedures.
Seeking surgical scenarios
Options for addressing glaucoma surgically vary depending on the severity of the condition. In milder cases, ophthalmologists may use a laser or shunt to help fluid flow out of the eye more easily. For patients with severe glaucoma, a more invasive trabeculectomy might be the only option. With a trabeculectomy, the surgeon uses incisions to make a new pathway for fluid to drain.
Dealing with the aftermath
Following glaucoma surgery, individuals commonly experience blurriness in the operated eye. Depending on the complexity of the procedure, vision can take anywhere from minutes to weeks to return to normal. Other effects of the surgery may include irritation, tearing, redness, eyelid swelling, and feeling like something is trapped in there. Mild pain may also be present but should be manageable.
A post-surgery plan
Regular visits after glaucoma surgery are necessary to ensure the area is healing as intended. The physician may modify eye drop regimens or make modifications post-operatively to increase the likelihood of success. During this recovery period, patients should report unusual symptoms immediately to avoid long-term issues. These symptoms could be extreme redness, severe pain, gooey discharge from the eye, or a decrease in vision.
The road to recovery
Glaucoma surgery is almost always done on an outpatient basis. Returning to normal after a glaucoma surgery hinges on the procedure performed and a patient’s ability to recover. Minimally invasive procedures typically require little to no downtime and come with few post-operative restrictions. Trabeculectomies often require weeks to recover from as the eye heals from the effects of the surgery.
Following glaucoma surgery, patients can return to reading, watching TV, or using electronic devices as vision stabilizes. Showering or bathing is also allowed as long as soap or shampoo doesn’t enter the eye. Patients may be asked to use eye drops or wear an eye shield to encourage healing. Be sure to follow any and all doctor’s orders and get lots of rest for the best chance at surgical success.
No matter the procedure, plan to avoid driving for at least a few days afterward. Most eye doctors will also recommend avoiding straining, bending over at the waist, and lifting more than 10 pounds. Steer clear of exercise that could cause an elevation in heart rate. Swimming pools, saunas, and hot tubs can harbor bacteria and should not be entered during recovery. Keeping objects such as contacts, makeup, or even fingers is also a good idea.
There’s no coming back
There is no cure for glaucoma at this time, and surgery only stops the condition from getting worse. Any blindness from the disease prior to the procedure is permanent and will not return. Individuals at risk for glaucoma should schedule regular eye appointments to minimize the risk of vision loss.