What causes glaucoma?

In a healthy eye, aqueous humor (fluid) is produced to nourish and clean the eye at the same rate at which it is drained in order to maintain a constant and normal intraocular pressure (IOP). A loss of drainage function leads to a high IOP, which can result in glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can result in irreversible vision loss.

Is there a cure for glaucoma?

To date there is no cure for glaucoma. Glaucoma treatments are designed to slow, or halt, the progression of the disease. Your surgeon will determine what level of IOP is required in order to preserve your vision.

What are the effects of glaucoma?

Many people with glaucoma cannot drive a car safely, see their grandchildren on the soccer field, and view the world as they once did. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision.

How are patients commonly treated for glaucoma?

Typically, glaucoma is treated with a laser or with one or a combination of medications. However, drugs must be taken every day, and these medications can lose their effectiveness over time, especially when patients are in the advanced stages of the disease. When medications cease to be effective, or are deemed unsuitable due to side effects or lifestyle, different surgical techniques can be used.

What is Canaloplasty?

Canaloplasty is an advanced surgical treatment for glaucoma. It uses breakthrough microcatheter technology to enlarge your eye’s natural drainage system, similar to angioplasty.

How does Canaloplasty revitalize the eye’s aqueous outflow?

Canaloplasty works within the natural structures of the eye. No artificial pathways are created, and no incisions are made within the visual field of the eye. There is a reduced level of postoperative complications when compared to traditional surgical techniques.

Does Canaloplasty work for all types of glaucoma?

Canaloplasty is an effective surgical option for the majority of glaucoma patients, including: open-angle glaucoma (OAG), pigmentary glaucoma (PG), pseudoexfoliation glaucoma (PXF), normal tension glaucoma (NTG) and juvenile glaucoma. It is also suitable for patients who wear contact lenses. Patients with contact lenses are unable to undergo the traditional forms of glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy or shunt). Canaloplasty is well suited to patients at high risk for infection or bleeding and those with enhanced wound healing. Canaloplasty may also be suited to patients who have had complications in the other eye following trabeculectomy.

What results can I expect with Canaloplasty?

Canaloplasty is clinically proven to significantly reduce intraocular pressure (IOP). As an added benefit, many patients who undergo Canaloplasty no longer require anti-glaucoma medications, or can reduce the number of medications required.

How long has Canaloplasty been performed?

Canaloplasty is essentially a modification of viscocanalostomy, which was first described in 1991 by South African glaucoma specialist Dr. Robert Stegmann. The iTrack™ microcatheter required to perform Canaloplasty was approved by the FDA more than 10 years ago. To date, more than 35,000 procedures have been performed worldwide.

What does “Minimally Invasive” mean?

Traditional glaucoma surgeries (trabeculectomy or shunt surgery) require the creation of a permanent hole (or fistula) through the wall of the eye (sclera). In contrast, Canaloplasty works independent of a fistula. As a result, Canaloplasty offers a much better risk-benefit ratio and requires minimal post-operative follow-up: patients can return to normal day-to-day activities almost immediately following treatment.

What happens during the procedure?

First, your surgeon will make a small incision in the eye. A microcatheter designed specifically for Canaloplasty is then inserted into the eye’s circumferential drainage canal. Your surgeon will advance the microcatheter 360 degrees, then attach a suture to its tip. While the microcatheter is being withdrawn, the suture is being placed in the canal and the canal is being visco-dilated to enlarge the space similar to angioplasty in an artery; thereby facilitating a sustained reduction in IOP over the long-term.

Will I still need to continue using my eye drops following Canaloplasty?

Depending on the results of the procedure, your ensuing intraocular pressure (IOP) and the severity of your glaucoma, your surgeon will evaluate whether or not you need to continue to use any medication. In many cases, patients do not need to continue to use eye drops after Canaloplasty.

What are the side effects of Canaloplasty?

Canaloplasty is a minimally invasive glaucoma surgery and offers a high safety profile with limited risk of complications and side effects. It is important to note, however, that all surgeries have risks associated with them. The most common side effects associated with Canaloplasty are bleeding in the eye and IOP spikes.

Is Canaloplasty painful?

No. During the surgery your eye will be anesthetized. Post-surgery your surgeon will prescribe eye drops to reduce inflammation and to prevent pain. Some people may experience a transient “foreign body sensation” (i.e. scratchy sensation) under the upper eyelid, caused by the slowly dissolving sutures on the conjunctiva. This lasts for 2-3 weeks following surgery and resolves on its own.

What is a “viscoelastic”?

In Canaloplasty, a viscoelastic is a sterile, gel-like material, which is injected into the canal to dilate the drainage channel, thereby facilitating the exit of fluid through the natural outflow pathways.

Will long-term use of anti-glaucoma medications affect the likelihood of success with Canaloplasty?

There is growing evidence that Schlemm’s canal (the eye’s natural drainage duct) decreases in size with long-term use of anti-glaucoma medications. If there is significant stenosis (scarring down) of the canal, then it may not be possible to pass the microcatheter all of the way around the canal. However, even if a stent cannot be left in the canal it is generally possible to dilate a significant portion of the canal with viscoelastic in order to provide an IOP-lowering effect.

Can I undergo Canaloplasty after having SLT (Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty)?

Canaloplasty can be performed after SLT. And SLT can also be performed after Canaloplasty, The two treatments are considered to be complementary given that they both stimulate the natural outflow systems, by biological and surgical means respectively.

What if Canaloplasty doesn’t work for me?

A key benefit of Canaloplasty is that is does not preclude other forms of glaucoma surgery. If the procedure is unsuccessful, your surgeon may elect to perform conventional glaucoma surgery (trabeculectomy).

What is PhacoCanaloplasty?

PhacoCanaloplasty is a combined cataract and glaucoma treatment. During the first part of the procedure, your surgeon will replace the clouded natural lens of your eye with an artificial lens in order to help give you sharper vision. In the second part of the procedure your surgeon will use microcatheter technology to enlarge your eye’s drainage system, similar to angioplasty, in order to reduce your intraocular pressure (IOP).

Why is Canaloplasty better than traditional surgical techniques, such as trabeculectomy?

While traditional glaucoma surgeries can be effective, they permanently impact the anatomic structure of the eye and can require repeated, unscheduled visits to the ophthalmologist for wound management. Canaloplasty is a restorative treatment. Unlike trabeculectomy, which bypasses the eye’s natural drainage channels, Canaloplasty restores the natural outflow pathways in order to reduce the elevated intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma. Canaloplasty works within the natural structures of the eye because no artificial pathways are created and no incisions are made within the visual field of the eye. Canaloplasty has a high safety profile and requires minimal post-operative follow-up: Canaloplasty patients can return to normal day-to-day activities almost immediately following treatment.

What is the difference between Canaloplasty and trabeculectomy?

During trabeculectomy, your surgeon will create a hole in the wall of the eye (sclera) to allow the fluid to flow from the inside of the front of the eye (anterior chamber) through the scleral hole to a bleb (cyst, or blister-like elevation of the conjunctiva). Trabeculectomy is a highly invasive technique that bypasses the eye’s natural outflow pathways and carries a high risk of complications such as infection and leakage. In contrast, Canaloplasty is a minimally invasive technique which involves the creation of a partial thickness flap in the sclera. This flap is then sewn back in place after Schlemm’s canal is opened so there is no fistula created between the inside and outside of the eye. Fluid drains out through the (newly opened) natural drainage system of the eye.

Patient Resources

Canaloplasty Educational Brochure

Download this brochure to learn more about glaucoma and the treatment options available, including Canaloplasty. Also available in Spanish.

Patient Stories

Patient Story 1: Mark

PatientStory1-MarkMark Ewoldsen, PhD, discusses his family history of glaucoma, his experience with medications and his decision to have Canaloplasty on both eyes.

Patient Story 2: Denise

PatientStory2-DeniseDenise from Houston, Texas, suffered from uncontrollable IOP for several years despite multiple drug therapy and previous surgery. With Canaloplasty, she has achieved satisfactory IOP, and with the added benefit of minimal post-operative follow-up.

Patient Story 3: Nidhi

PatientStory3-NidhiNidhi Shetty discusses her experience with severe glaucoma and her decision to undergo Canaloplasty.

Patient Story 4: Barbara

PatientStory4-BarbaraBarbara from Boston, Massachusetts discusses how, after failed drug therapy, Canaloplasty has significantly lowered her IOP.

Patient Story 5: Theresa

PatientStory5-TheresaTheresa Dupris discusses her experience with rapidly progressing glaucoma and the positive impact Canaloplasty has had in preventing further vision loss.

Patient Story 6: Judy

PatientStory6-JudyJudy Leyba talks about her experience with glaucoma and Canaloplasty and the ease of the post-operative recovery process.