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Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Jan;88(1):E39-47. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3181fe2226.

A history of the surgical management of glaucoma.

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  • 1Glaucoma Service, Wills Eye Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Many new surgeries have been devised since 1856, when von Graefe discovered that iridectomy is an effective surgical method for acute glaucoma treatment. Two years later, De Wecker presented sclerotomy as a procedure for chronic glaucoma. In 1900, internal filtration (cyclodialysis) was developed. In 1932, ciliodestruction was suggested. The four approaches, relief of pupillary block, external filtration, internal filtration, and ciliodestruction, are still the basic techniques of glaucoma surgeries over 100 years later. There have been two basic approaches to lowering eye pressure surgically: increase outflow and decrease inflow of aqueous humor. Although the majority of surgeries used nowadays were introduced in the 1960s, their roots can be traced to the work of surgeons in the 19th century. Trabeculectomy, in use since the mid-1960s, is the most effective glaucoma surgery in terms of intraocular pressure reduction but carries its own limitations. Non-penetrating glaucoma surgeries emerged at the same time trabeculectomy was presented, but they are not used as commonly as trabeculectomy. Molteno introduced the first effective shunt and followed by others. Since 1995, the majority of new surgeries have consisted of new implantable devices including SOLX, iStent, and Ex-PRESS shunt. This article will review the history of glaucoma surgery and describe the fundamentals of different glaucoma procedures.

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