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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


The week before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your doctor may give you eyedrops to use 3 or 4 days before surgery to help prevent infection.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. Talk to your healthcare provider about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
  • Get sunglasses with UVB protection to wear after surgery.

The night before your surgery:

  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.
  • Do not drink alcohol for 48 hours before surgery. Alcohol can dehydrate you and make your eyes too dry for surgery.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Providers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • Do not wear contact lenses the day of surgery. You may wear your glasses.
  • Do not wear eye makeup or lotion on your face.


What will happen:

  • 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 is 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 will keep 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 cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have severe eye pain.
  • You have a sudden change in your vision.


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.

Care Agreement

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.