Understanding the Different Types of Glaucoma Surgeries

Eye drops are often the initial form of treatment for many patients with glaucoma as various eye drops can lower pressure in the eye. They achieve this either by increasing the fluid’s drainage or reducing the production of the fluid. This fluid, also known as aqueous humor, brings nutrients to your eyes and keeps them plump. However, this does not work for everyone. When all other options are not the best fit, or your ophthalmologist does not think you are a good candidate, glaucoma surgery is another great option.

Different Glaucoma Surgery Options


If you have acute angle-closure glaucoma or advanced glaucoma, surgery is the best option. A dramatic rise in intraocular pressure due to a blockage requires quick intervention to preserve your vision. 

Laser Surgery Treatments


Laser surgeries are effective in draining your eye efficiently and they are often performed in your ophthalmologist’s office and require minimal downtime. These surgeries include:

  • Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty – Also known as SLT, this surgery uses a special laser to remodel your eye’s current drainage. It can last up to five years and has minimal side effects.

  • Laser Peripheral Iridotomy – LPI is a treatment mainly for angle-closure glaucoma. It entails creating a tiny hole in the outer edge of the iris. Opening the eye’s angle allows fluid to drain unhindered through the meshwork.

  • Argon Laser Trabeculoplasty – ALT treats open-angle glaucoma. The procedure drains the eye by opening up the drainage areas within.

  • Laser Cyclophotocoagulation – It is commonly used to treat advanced glaucoma. The surgery targets the area that produces the aqueous humor (ciliary body). It aims to curb its production.


Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery


Also known as MIGS, these surgeries have become popular in the last decade. They typically treat moderate or mild glaucoma. They are also short, lasting between 10 to 15 minutes. MIGS use very tiny incisions and microscopic stents to reduce eye pressure. Compared to conventional glaucoma surgeries, they have minimal complications. Examples include:

  • Suprachoroidal shunts

  • Trabecular bypass operations

  • Endocyclophotocoagulation

  • Micropulse Cyclophotocoagulation

  • Micro Trabeculectomy




It is arguably the benchmark of glaucoma surgery and is very effective. A small incision is made in the white area of your eye during the procedure. Then, a small portion of the meshwork is removed to allow better fluid drainage. It is an outpatient procedure that lasts about an hour.

Implant Surgery


This surgery entails the insertion of tubes into your eye and aims to enhance a trabeculectomy to ensure the aqueous humor keeps flowing as intended. They are effective in treating glaucoma that occurs due to an eye injury or complicated glaucoma. They are also used to treat neovascular glaucoma and congenital glaucoma and are outpatient surgeries.

For more on the different types of glaucoma surgeries, visit Santa Barbara Eyecare at our office in Santa Barbara or Goleta, California. Call (805) 967-9990 or 805-451-8180 to book an appointment today.

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