Treating Your Glaucoma

At Virginia Eye Consultants

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that occurs when high fluid pressure in the eye presses against the optic nerve, causing damage that can eventually lead to blindness. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S., affecting nearly 3 million Americans.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common is a gradual, progressive condition that slowly damages the optic nerve, a vital structure in the eye that sends visual information to the brain and makes eyesight possible.

"There is no cure for glaucoma," says Constance O. Okeke, M.D., M.S.C.E., glaucoma specialist at Virginia Eye Consultants. "But there are several effective treatments that can significantly slow down its progression and prevent blindness, including the breakthrough Trabectome procedure."

What is the Trabectome Surgery?

The Trabectome surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that takes about 20 minutes, and it works to improve natural fluid drainage from the eye, balance intraocular pressure (IOP) and stabilize vision.

The Trabectome hand piece tip is inserted into the eye through a tiny incision at the edge of the cornea. With an electrosurgical pulse, the tip surgically removes a small strip of the diseased tissue, which gently unclogs the natural drainage channels of the eye and lowers the pressure. The procedure requires very little sedation, and patients generally recover fully within one week.

Trabectome is an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient is able to return home when the surgery is complete. The patient's eyes will be shielded for a few hours after surgery, but normal daily activities can usually be performed 24 hours following surgery.

There are several benefits to Trabectome surgery:

  • Low complication rate
  • Rapid recovery
  • More simple than traditional glaucoma surgery
  • Easily combined with cataract surgery

Virginia Eye Consultants is the sole provider of the Trabectome technology in the Hampton Roads area. Dr. Constance Okeke is currently the only officially trained surgeon performing the procedure in Hampton Roads.

Glaucoma is caused by a blocked drainage system, which increases eye pressure.

A section of the trabecular meshwork (part of the drainage system) is removed, letting aqueous fluid flow normally.

With aqueous flow improved, eye pressure is lowered.

Who is a candidate?

Not all patients with glaucoma are suitable for Trabectome surgery. Typically, this procedure is more effective in the early to moderate stages of glaucoma. It is also most effective in patients who have already undergone cataract surgery, or when coupled with cataract surgery. Patients undergoing cataract surgery who choose to have the Trabectome procedure at the same time as their cataract surgery usually add just 10-15 minutes to the procedure. Some patients who have had major glaucoma surgery may also be eligible for the Trabectome surgery if their eye anatomy allows.

Due to bleeding risks, patients who undergo this surgery need to be off any blood thinners (e.g., asperin, Coumadin, Plavix) for days to weeks prior to surgery.

Risks and side effects

While there are no major risks for the Trabectome procedure in appropriate candidates, there are general risks similar to other eye surgeries:

  • Possible additional bleeding inside the eye
  • Very small risk of infection
  • Very small risk of loss of vision

About Virginia Eye Consultants

Virginia Eye Consultants has been Eastern Virginia's leading vision care center since it was established in 1969. All of the physicians are fellowship-trained and board-certified specialists, which sets a high standard for care. The center has a national reputation for comprehensive medical and surgical vision care, with expertise in cataract surgery, glaucoma, corneal transplantation, refractive surgery, retinal diseases, macular degeneration and more. Two locations are offered in Norfolk and Hampton. For more information, visit virginiaeyeconsultants.com or call Virginia Eye Consultants at (757) 622-2200 to schedule an appointment.