Surgery Overview

Trabeculotomy is a surgical procedure much
trabeculectomy. A piece of tissue in the eye’s
drainage angle is removed to create an opening. This
new opening allows fluid (aqueous humor) to drain out of the eye.
Trabeculotomy is a surgery for children only.

What To Expect After Surgery

After surgery, drops that tighten
(constrict) the pupil are used to keep the iris, the colored part of the eye,
from blocking the new opening.

Why It Is Done

Trabeculotomy is a good choice for
children who have
congenital glaucoma when the clear covering (cornea)
over the iris is cloudy.

For children, trabeculotomy or goniotomy
are preferred over trabeculectomy, because they are less invasive and less
likely to cause cataracts. They also do a better job of lowering eye pressure in children who have glaucoma.

How Well It Works

Trabeculotomy is successful for more than 80 out of 100 children whose glaucoma was not present at birth.footnote 1


The most common problem after trabeculotomy is
scarring of the new opening in the eye. Scarring prevents fluid from draining
out of the eye. Other complications of surgery may include:

  • Severe blurring of vision for several weeks
  • Bleeding in the eye.
  • Extremely low pressure
    in the eye, which may result in blurred vision from clouding of the lens
    (cataract) or fluid buildup under the nerve layer (retina).
  • Sudden,
    permanent loss of central vision.
  • Infection in the
  • High pressure in the eye, causing the space in the front part
    of the eye (anterior chamber) to collapse. This condition is called malignant
    glaucoma and is rare.
  • Continued changes in the optic nerve (at the
    back of the eye) caused by glaucoma.

What To Think About

Some children with congenital
glaucoma need more than one surgery to control the high pressure in their eyes.

Surgery is more difficult
and less likely to be successful for children who have severe congenital

Medicines may still be needed to control
pressure in the eyes after surgery.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.



  1. Salim S, Walton D (2009). Goniotomy and trabeculotomy. In M Yanoff, JS Duker, eds., Ophthalmology, 3rd ed., pp. 1241-1245. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC – Ophthalmology
Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC – Ophthalmology

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017