Glaucoma Surgery Recovery

Glaucoma surgery patient in operating roomGlaucoma surgery is an outpatient procedure which can stabilize vision and prevent vision loss when other treatments are unsuccessful. While there are several types of surgery for glaucoma, the most common is trabeculectomy. During this procedure, your surgeon creates an additional passage to allow fluid to drain properly from the eye, reducing damaging intraocular pressure (IOP). Advances in laser technology have made glaucoma surgery recovery shorter and reduced post-operative discomfort. However, in some rare cases, your doctor may still recommend conventional microsurgery, especially if your IOP is particularly high. 

Immediately after Surgery

Woman having gauze placed over her eyeYour doctor may place a patch or eye shield over the treated eye after the procedure to protect the area. Glaucoma surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, so you will need someone to drive you home after the appointment.

Most patients are able to return to their normal activities shortly after glaucoma surgery. However, you will have some restrictions for a few weeks. Often, surgeons require their patients to return the day after surgery for a check-up. During this visit, your doctor will measure the pressure within your eye to see if the treatment was successful. 

Temporary Side Effects of Treatment

You will likely experience some changes in your vision and the appearance of your eye for a short period after glaucoma surgery. Temporary side effects may include:

  • Red eyes
  • Irritation
  • Increased tearing or watering
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling 
  • Discomfort

Most of these symptoms should resolve within a few days or weeks. Some patients experience vision fluctuations or blurriness for the first month or two, while for others, vision stabilizes in as little as a few days. Once your vision normalizes, your eye doctor can perform an eye exam and determine your new prescription. Many patients need new glasses or contacts after glaucoma surgery. 

Protect Your Eye during Healing

Carefully monitoring your symptoms and contacting your doctor quickly can reduce the chance of serious complications.

There are several steps you can take to protect your eye as you recover. You should keep your face clean and avoid touching your eye. While you may bathe and shower, water should not enter the eye for at least a week after surgery. Take care using shampoo and soap as well, as these products can irritate the treated eye. Although you can return to most normal activities after surgery, you should avoid:

  • Driving
  • Reading
  • Bending
  • Heavy lifting
  • Straining
  • Strenuous activities 

In addition, make sure to use all medications provided by your surgeon as instructed. You will also need to attend follow-up appointments, so your doctor can monitor your IOP and ensure the success of the procedure. 

When to Contact Your Doctor

As with any type of surgery, glaucoma surgery carries some degree of risk. However, carefully monitoring your symptoms and contacting your doctor quickly can reduce the chance of serious complications. If you experience a sudden, dramatic decrease in vision or if certain symptoms increase significantly, contact a doctor right away. Pain, increasing redness, eyelid swelling, decreasing vision, and discharge are all potential signs of infection. 

Learn More about Recovery

If non-invasive treatments, such as eye drops and medications, have been ineffective at reducing your IOP, glaucoma surgery can protect your vision. Advancements in surgical technology have made recovery quicker than ever. For more information about recovering after glaucoma surgery, contact an eye doctor today. 

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