Aqueous Tube Shunt

About an Aqueous Tube Shunt

Glaucoma is a progressive disease that affects the optic nerves and may lead to a permanent loss of vision if left untreated. Early signs of the disease, such as elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), may be unnoticed by a patient.  However, late signs may be an irreversible loss of peripheral vision, central vision, or even blindness. 

Although laser therapy and eye drops are the first-line treatments for glaucoma, surgery needs to be considered for individuals who are inadequately controlled or intolerant to medical therapy. Aqueous tube shunts are effective in lowering IOP and are reserved for those individuals not adequately controlled by newer methods.

An aqueous tube shunt is sutured to the surface of the eye underneath the conjunctival tissue. A tube attached to the shunt is carefully inserted through the wall of the eye into the front part of the eye in order to drain aqueous fluid out from the anterior chamber. This fluid collects inside a cavity created by the tube shunt and is then drained by the body’s lymphatic and vascular system. This reduces the IOP, potentially reduces the number and frequency of glaucoma medications to be used, and reduces the progressive effects of advanced glaucoma. The tube shunt is not visible when someone is looking at you.

Aqueous Tube Shunt Crestview & Okaloosa County

Learn More About Aqueous Tube Shunt

If you have a progressive visual field loss, an aqueous tube shunt may be an option when:

  • Eye drops or newer methods of surgery have not controlled your glaucoma effectively
  • You have an intolerance to glaucoma medications or cannot adhere to the eye drop regimen

The tube-shunt surgery takes approximately one hour and is typically performed under IV sedation and topical anesthetic drops. You cannot feel the tube or the fluid flowing through them.

To keep the tube from being exposed through the conjunctiva, your surgeon will stitch a patch graft over the tube and onto the surface of your eye. This patch and the underlying device are covered by the conjunctiva. 

Eye tenderness, grittiness, watery eyes, and blurry vision are common following surgery. You will be discharged from the surgery center shortly after your procedure. You will need a driver to transfer you home.

As mentioned, it is usual for your eye to be tender, gritty, watery, and blurry following surgery. It may also be red and swollen. These symptoms are not serious, can be managed by medication and lubricant drops, and will improve over the first several weeks. You will use an antibiotic drop to prevent infection and a steroid drop to control inflammation.

You will also have to wear a plastic shield over your operative eye at night to prevent you from accidentally rubbing your eye. This is needed for up to two weeks following the operation or as your surgeon recommends on follow-up evaluations.

You will have outpatient appointments the following day of the operation and subsequently every few weeks to make sure the healing is progressing well, the IOP is well controlled, and there are no complications.

You should avoid bending or strenuous activities during the first two weeks. However, it is safe to do your normal daily activities like light work, watching TV, and reading. If your work involves looking at a computer screen for long hours, you should arrange to be away from work for at least a week, but this can vary.

The aqueous tube shunt will help reduce IOP preserving the sight you already have. It does not restore vision that you may have previously lost but may prevent further vision loss.

This surgery is very safe and rarely has complications or major side effects. In rare cases, one may experience a temporary or permanent worsening of vision, drooping of the eyelid, double vision, too low of an IOP, or scarring from the device with a rise in IOP.

Schedule an appointment with us by completing this form or calling us at (850) 331-3937 to discuss with Dr. Phil Alabata if you are a candidate for Aqueous Tube Shunt. A referral is not required.