• When Is Glaucoma Surgery Needed?


    At what stage of glaucoma is surgery the only option for controlling eye pressure?


    There are many types of glaucoma. Our assumption is this question is referring to the most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, which can present in various stages. In managing primary open-angle glaucoma there are many factors to consider in choosing an intervention, including the stage of the disease and apparent rate of progression as well as the more global issues of age, health status, and life expectancy. That is why an ophthalmologist—a physician trained in diseases affecting the entire body as well as diseases of the eye—is best trained to help.

    In general, we try to minimize and delay—when safe—exposure to interventional risk. That is, we choose a treatment that is most likely to minimize adverse effects in the short term while preserving vision over the short- and long-term. For that reason, typically, we try to control intraocular pressure whenever possible with a combination of medication and laser treatments. However, in eyes in which we are unable to adequately control the intraocular pressure, despite our best efforts, surgical options need to be considered.