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Does Glaucoma Always Require Surgery?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions 一 including open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, and normal-tension glaucoma 一 that can damage your optic nerve. 

Because a damaged optic nerve can lead to vision loss and even blindness, you should address glaucoma as soon as possible. 

Our expert providers here at Maryland Eye Care Center in Silver Spring and Hyattsville, Maryland, offer a variety of glaucoma treatments to help preserve your sight. One of the most common treatment questions we hear is whether surgery is required. 

Does glaucoma always require surgery?

The short answer is no, glaucoma doesn’t always require surgery. But it’s important to know the type of glaucoma you have and the extent of damage to your optic nerve. 

Your Maryland Eye Care Center provider recommends the treatment right for you by checking your intraocular pressure (IOP), examining your optic nerve and drainage angles, and measuring the thickness of your cornea. 

Potential treatment options for glaucoma

Depending on the outcome of your eye exam, you may benefit from the following:


The first line of defense against glaucoma is usually medication to reduce fluid production in your eye or improve drainage. You may receive it via medicated eye drops or in oral form. 

Laser-based treatments 

Laser treatments, such as selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) and laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI), aim to improve fluid drainage and reduce intraocular pressure in your eyes. We consider these procedures before resorting to surgical interventions.


If medication and laser treatments aren’t enough to address the pressure in your eyes, surgery may be right for you. Surgical options for glaucoma include:

The goal of surgery is to reduce pressure in your eye, prevent damage to your optic nerve, and reduce the risk of vision loss. But each procedure involves different steps.

During trabeculectomy, for example, your Maryland Eye Care Center surgeon creates a tiny drainage hole in your sclera. With glaucoma implant surgery, they place a shunt in your eye; this procedure is often for glaucoma that results from injury.

Is surgery right for you?

As with any surgery, weigh the pros and cons before committing to glaucoma surgery. Surgery might be best if you have glaucoma and:

After surgery, you likely need eye drops to help with swelling. Also, follow aftercare instructions carefully. You can expect healing to take a few weeks.

Questions about glaucoma? Don’t let untreated glaucoma steal your vision. Call one of our convenient locations to learn more about your surgical and nonsurgical treatment options. You can also request a glaucoma consultation online.

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