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A trabeculectomy is surgery to treat open angle glaucoma. The trabecular meshwork is the drainage system for your eye. A trabeculectomy will help repair the drainage system and decrease your eye pressure. This surgery is usually done if other treatments do not keep your eye pressure low enough.

Eye Anatomy


  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia: This is medicine to make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.
    • General anesthesia: Healthcare providers use this medicine to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. They may give you anesthesia through your IV. You may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Local anesthesia: This is a shot of medicine put into the skin around your eye. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery.

During your surgery:

  • Your healthcare provider will use an eyelid holder to keep your eye wide open during surgery. He will make a tiny hole in the top of your sclera. A small piece of the sclera will be removed. A piece of the conjunctiva (clear layer that covers your eye) will be stitched over the hole in the sclera. When eye fluid flows out of the hole, it forms a pocket on the surface of the sclera. The hole allows enough eye fluid to flow out to keep your eye pressure at a healthy level.
  • Stitches will be used to close the incisions. The stitches in your eye will dissolve on their own. Eyedrops or ointment will be put in your eye after surgery. A bandage will be taped over your eye. This keeps the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A metal or plastic shield may be placed over the bandage to prevent you from accidentally bumping your eye.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.


You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your glaucoma may not get better or may become worse. Your eye pressure may become too low. This could cause your vision to get worse. You could lose your vision. You may develop a scar that causes the hole to close. This could make your eye pressure increase again. You may get cataracts (cloudy vision). You may need more surgery to treat your glaucoma.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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