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Trabeculectomy: What to Expect at Home

Eyeball and optic nerve

Your Recovery

You had a trabeculectomy to treat glaucoma. Pressure in the eye can lead to vision problems. This type of surgery is one way to lower the pressure in the eye.

After surgery, your eye may be red and irritated. It may also water more than usual or swell a little. Even though your eye may be uncomfortable, it's important not to rub it. Rubbing your eye could damage it.

A dressing is worn over the eye during the first night after surgery. You'll wear an eye shield at bedtime for up to a month.

You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. In most cases, the new opening (bleb) in your eye will be covered by your upper eyelid and will not be visible.

For a few weeks, you may see your doctor several times a week to check how well fluid is draining out of your eye. Depending on the pressure in your eye, your doctor may cut the stitches around your bleb to change the flow of fluid.

Your eyes may be blurry for up to 6 weeks after surgery. As this goes away, your vision will probably be as good as it was before surgery. But you may need to change your glasses or contact lenses. Certain kinds of glasses and contacts may be better for your eye after this surgery.

If you need them, your doctor will recommend or prescribe pain medicines. The doctor will also give you eyedrops and may prescribe medicines to prevent the bleb from scarring.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Wear your glasses during the day. Wear your eye shield or patch at night for 1 week or for as long as your doctor tells you to.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay to drive.
  • You can read or watch TV.
  • Do not wear contact lenses for about 8 weeks, or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Do not wear eye makeup for 2 weeks. You may also want to avoid face cream or lotion.
  • You can shower or wash your hair the day after surgery. Keep water, soap, shampoo, hair spray, and shaving lotion out of your eye, especially for the first week.
  • Do not rub or put pressure on your eye for at least 1 week.
  • Do not get your hair coloured or permed for 10 days after surgery.
  • Do not bend over or do any strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 2 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Avoid swimming, hot tubs, gardening, and dusting for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Wear sunglasses if your eyes feel sensitive to light.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for when to use eye drops. Always wash your hands before you put your drops in. To put in eyedrops:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking pain medicines.
  • As your eye heals, your doctor will know if you need to keep taking glaucoma medicines. You may not need any medicines, or you may be able to take less medicine than before. If you do need medicines, follow your doctor's instructions for taking them.
  • If you get constipated, your doctor may recommend laxatives. These medicines help you avoid straining while trying to pass stool. Straining can increase the pressure in your eye.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have a sudden loss of vision.
  • You have sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worse eye pain.
  • You have vision changes.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.