Cataract Surgery & Glaucoma ECP Laser Treatment

Reviewed by:

Paul Koch, MD

If you have a Cataract and are also being treated for Glaucoma you should ask your Cataract Surgeon about the possibility of having a Glaucoma Laser treatment as part of your Cataract Surgery. For many patients the hassle and difficulty of using eye drops to treat Glaucoma makes it nearly impossible to always follow your eye doctor's instructions. This can lead to poor control of the pressure inside your eye-called Intraocular Pressure or IOP-and may result in gradual progressive vision loss. By using a procedure called Endocyclophotocoagulation or ECP, also sometimes called EndoLaser, it may be possible to treat your Glaucoma during your Cataract Surgery procedure.

What is Endocyclophotocoagulation or ECP?

ECP is a laser treatment used to treat Glaucoma. ECP delivers a gentle type of laser light energy through a fine fiber optic probe. During the Cataract operation the Cataract Surgeon is able to use the same tiny incisions to remove the Cataract, implant an IOL and perform the ECP procedure.

How is ECP performed?

During both the Cataract procedure and the ECP procedure, the eye surgeon will first place a small a small self-sealing incision at the outermost edge of the Cornea. Then he or she will carefully place a viscous jelly-like fluid into the eye through the tiny incision to protect the delicate internal eye tissue.

Some Cataract Surgeons prefer to perform the Cataract removal through "phacoemulsification" at this time, whereas others may prefer to perform the ECP first followed by the Cataract removal. To perform the ECP procedure, the eye surgeon will gently insert a tiny fiber optic probe into the eye. This probe is about the same thickness as an ordinary paper clip-but it is actually a specialized video camera that allows the surgeon to directly see the microscopic structures inside the eye under high magnification. The camera allows the surgeon to directly see the specific structures that produce the Aqueous Humor, the eye's internal fluid. By applying the laser to these structures, called Ciliary Processes, it is possible to cause them to decrease the amount of fluid they produce and thus lower the Intraocular Pressure (IOP). The ECP procedure is painless and typically takes just a few minutes to perform. Since both procedures are performed through a very tiny incision there is usually no need for stitches or sutures, as the incision will quickly seal itself.

What are the results with the ECP Glaucoma Laser procedure?

It is estimated that some 80% of patients having the ECP Glaucoma Laser procedure experience a significant decrease in their Intraocular Pressure (IOP) and thus better control of their Glaucoma. Many patients are able at least reduce and in some cases eliminate their need for Glaucoma eye drops. Reducing the need for Glaucoma medications and eye drops is particularly beneficial for patients who are unable to use their eye drops because they have limited manual dexterity and cannot properly administer the drops as well as those who experience side effects of Glaucoma eye drops, such as eye irritation, stomach upset, loss of appetite and decreases night vision. It has been suggested that as many as 25% of patients having the ECP Glaucoma Laser treatment along with their Cataract Surgery are able to stop using Glaucoma medications completely.

None of the information provided within is meant to be a substitute or replacement for your physician’s consultation nor does it replace the need for you to consult with your Cataract Surgeon about the specific details of Cataract Surgery, Glaucoma and Glaucoma Laser treatments.

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