Goniotomy Near Birmingham, AL

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What is goniotomy?

At our Vestavia Hills, AL facility, board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Young H. Choi offers state-of-the-art eye care, including goniotomy procedures. Goniotomy surgery is a distinctive procedure that is used to treat patients who suffer from open-angle glaucoma. This condition occurs when the drainage angle created by the cornea and iris is open; however, the trabecular meshwork is somewhat blocked. As a result, pressure in the eye can elevate over time and lead to impaired optic nerves. This can lead to unhealthy vision and other unpleasant symptoms. During the goniotomy, the front of the eye is examined with a specialized tool to locate the drainage system of the eye (trabecular meshwork). From there, a small surgical blade is used to make a new opening in the eye to allow for proper drainage, which in turn, decreases fluid pressure. Reach out to Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center in Vestavia Hills, AL (near Birmingham) to learn more.

What is open-angle glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma is a long-term condition that affects the optic nerve. It's caused by a build-up of fluid pressure in the eye, which can damage the optic nerve over time and ultimately lead to vision loss. The condition is most commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 40, but it can occur at any age. Patients should attend yearly eye exams at our Birmingham, AL eye surgery center because early diagnosis and treatment for open-angle glaucoma can help prevent further vision loss.

What Are The Benefits Of A Goniotomy?

While glaucoma cannot be reversed, the threat to your eyesight can be managed and discourgaed. A personalized goniotomy procedure performed by Dr. Choi offers great benefits to treat open-angle glaucoma, like:

  • Reducing IOP (intraocular pressure)
  • Helping to preserve eye health
  • Treatment is quick
  • Offers great success rates
  • Often covered part or in full by insurance

Who is a good candidate for goniotomy?

At Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center, Dr. Choi performs a goniotomy for patients experiencing open-angle glaucoma. A goniotomy may be considered a good option for patients who meet the following criteria:

  • Mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma: Goniotomy is typically recommended for patients with mild to moderate open-angle glaucoma, where the drainage angle in the eye is partially blocked or narrow, leading to increased intraocular pressure. If you have been diagnosed with this type of glaucoma, goniotomy may be a suitable treatment option.
  • Failed conservative treatment: If you have already tried other conservative treatments, such as medicated eye drops or laser trabeculoplasty, and they have not effectively controlled your intraocular pressure, goniotomy may be recommended as a next step.

During your consultation with Dr. Choi, he will conduct a tonometry test to check the fluid pressure within your eyes. This test helps determine the severity of your glaucoma and whether goniotomy is a suitable treatment option for you. If you meet the necessary criteria and Dr. Choi believes that a goniotomy is appropriate, he will discuss the procedure in detail and address any questions or concerns you may have.

What Are the Symptoms of Open-Angle Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma is a common form of glaucoma that can develop without noticeable symptoms in its early stages. It is essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms to seek timely medical attention. Some common symptoms include:

  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes
  • Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Difficulty adjusting to low light conditions

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to schedule an eye exam at Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center to protect your vision

How is goniotomy performed?

Goniotomy is an outpatient procedure at our office near Birmingham, AL that is performed with general anesthesia and takes about 20 minutes to perform. To start, Dr. Choi will numb the eye and use a lens called a goniolens to examine the outer structure of the eye. He will use this specialized device to assess the function of the eye's drainage system. A microscopic opening is then created within the trabecular meshwork to allow fluid to flow more freely from the eye. A goniotomy has shown great success rates in individuals with open-angle glaucoma, but a second surgery could be needed later on.

What Should I Expect Following Goniotomy?

Once the procedure is complete, Dr. Choi will meet with you to review all post-operative care instructions to follow at home to ensure optimal healing. Antibiotics and medicated eye drops will be prescribed for the first two weeks. Additional oral medication may also be prescribed for up to ten days to help reduce intraocular pressure (IOP). After about 3 – 6 weeks, Dr. Choi may reexamine your eye(s) under anesthesia or mild sedation. This exam will need to be repeated every three months for the first year and then every six months the second year. Following this time, follow-up exams can be conducted once a year without anesthesia.  

Goniotomy FAQ

How much does goniotomy cost?
The exact price of goniotomy can vary from one patient to another. When you first visit our office, we will review the cost of surgery — so you know what to expect and can plan accordingly for any out-of-pocket costs. We accept many payment forms, including CareCredit®.

Is goniotomy covered by insurance?
Since goniotomy is often considered medically necessary to treat open-angle glaucoma, it may be covered in part by insurance. Our office will contact your provider to determine if any coverage is offered with your specific insurance plan. From there, we can send over all the necessary paperwork to your insurer.

How long does it take to perform goniotomy?
While each procedure will vary slightly in terms of length, patients can typically expect goniotomy to last about 20 minutes. However, this will be longer if it is being performed in conjunction with another procedure, such as cataract surgery.

How long do the results of goniotomy last?
Just like any medical procedure, the exact procedure times of a goniotomy can vary. In general, our patients whose procedures follow routine expectations will take around 20 minutes. If you are combining your goniotomy with cataract surgery, your procedure will take longer.

How effective is goniotomy?
In general, this procedure is considered to be highly effective. Any concerns you may have about the risks of this procedure can be discussed with Dr. Choi in your initial consultation. However, it is worth noting that this procedure is demonstrated to be effective in significantly slowing the onset of glaucoma.

What happens to the eye after surgery?
Fluid exits the eye via the open channel formed in the eye's inherent drain, leading to a decrease in eye pressure. Consequently, after surgery, it may be possible to discontinue one or more medications for glaucoma.

Can I stop my glaucoma drops after surgery?
At each appointment, Dr. Choi will advise on which eye drops to keep using and their frequency, based on your eye's condition. Many patients find they can decrease the number of eye drops they need. Even if you continue with the same glaucoma medications post-surgery, the procedure is deemed successful if there's a reduction in your eye pressure. The long-term requirement for eye drops after this treatment differs significantly, depending on the nature and progression rate of your glaucoma.

Innovative glaucoma surgery

If you suffering from open-angle glaucoma and are searching for answers, contact Young H. Choi, M.D. Eye Surgery Center in Vestavia Hills, AL today. Dr. Choi is a highly trained specialist who has years of extensive experience in ocular surgery. He can take his time to sit down with you to discuss all the benefits and risks of goniotomy. We understand that such a prognosis can seem scary, but we are here to help guide you through all the safe and effective treatment options that are available. 

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