5 Things Glaucoma Sufferers Need To Know About Tube-Shunt Surgery

Glaucoma is a serious eye disorder that causes high pressure to build up inside your eyes, and damages the tissues inside your eyes. This can lead to vision loss or even blindness if it's not treated in time. Glaucoma can be treated with tube-shunt surgery. Here's what you need to know about this procedure.

What is tube-shunt surgery?

Tube-shunt surgery is a glaucoma treatment that can be used for people who aren't good candidates for traditional glaucoma procedures, such as people who already have a lot of scar tissue on their eyes. 

During this procedure, eye stents (tiny tubes) will be surgically implanted in your eyes and then sewn in place. The stitches are covered with donated eye tissue to keep your body from forcing the eye stents out of place. Once in place, these tubes allow excess fluids to flow out of your eyes, instead of building up inside your eyes and causing high pressure.

Will you be able to feel the stents in your eyes?

It may sound hard to believe, but you won't actually be able to feel the tubes in your eyes. This is because they're placed inside your eyes, with one opening flush to the outer surface of your eye. They're also incredibly tiny. A new type of eye stent, the iStent, is the smallest medical implant that is approved for use in the United States. It's only 1 mm long and 0.3 mm tall. 

Will other people be able to see the stents?

Eye stents are very small devices, so the only way someone will know that you have one is if you tell them. They are placed on the edge of your iris, the colored part of your eye, and are well camouflaged, even under magnification

How well do eye stents work?

Eye stents are able to decrease eye pressure in many cases. A study followed a group of patients who had undergone tube-shunt surgery for two years and measured their eye pressure during this time. One month after surgery, eye pressure was reduced by 35.3%, and after two years, eye pressure was reduced by 45.9%. 

Will you have to keep using eye drops?

Tube-shunt surgery allows some patients to stop using their prescription eye drops, but not all of them. Studies have shown that about 42% of people are able to stop using their drops, while the rest need to keep using them. Don't stop taking your eye drops until your optometrist tells you to. 

Tube-shunt surgery is an effective treatment for glaucoma, either by itself or in conjunction with eye drops. If you have glaucoma, talk to an eye care center like Country Hills Eye Center about this procedure.