Skip to Content

Laser Surgery for Glaucoma: Pros and Cons

Topic Overview

Laser surgery uses a very focused beam of light to cut, break down, or destroy tissue. Doctors use laser surgery when medicines fail to control vision loss caused by glaucoma. Laser surgery is done more often than conventional surgery for glaucoma.

The major advantages of laser surgery over conventional surgery for glaucoma include:

  • Less bleeding.
  • Less injury to tissues.
  • The ability to do most laser procedures without the person having to be admitted to the hospital.

The most common complication from laser surgery for glaucoma is increased pressure within the eye. The pressure may be normal immediately after laser surgery but then may rise sharply within 1 to 4 hours, especially in people who have severe glaucoma. The doctor may give you eyedrop medicine before and after surgery to prevent this complication. Other complications may include:

  • A brief period of inflammation of the colored part of the eye (iris).
  • Bleeding in the eye.
  • Cloudiness of the clear covering (cornea) over the iris. This does not usually last long.
  • Blockage of the drainage angle when the cornea and the iris stick together.
  • Pain.
  • Decreased vision.

The doctor will numb your eye before laser surgery. Usually this is done by giving you eye drops (topical anesthetic). During laser surgery, some people feel discomfort, such as pressure in their eye. How it feels depends on what kind of laser is used.

The main disadvantage of laser surgery for glaucoma is that it may not always lower pressure in the eye.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology

Current as ofMarch 3, 2017

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Health Library