POST CATARACT SURGERY: Elevated Intraocular Pressure: What You Should Know….

During cataract surgery, a thick protective gel, called Visoelastic Gel, is used to coat the structures inside the front of the eye and protect them. At the end of surgery, this gel is removed; however a certain amount remains and continues to form a protective coat on the structures inside the eye. One of these structures is called the Trabecular Network. This is a sieve-like structure through which fluid produced inside the eye is drained out of the eye. This residual protective coating (Viscoelastic Gel) dissipates and leaves the eye within a few hours, however during that time it can block fluid outflow and cause a pressure rise of the fluid filling the eye.
Normal pressure is around 23mm of mercury or less. (The eye is always pressurized, somewhere between 8 and 23.) These pressure elevations after Surgery go away on their own. If the pressure of the eye is mildly elevated, drops may be installed to lower the pressure faster than it would on its own. If the pressure of the eye is markedly elevated, we may let some fluid out of the eye to immediately lower the pressure. This is done by pressing on the side port incision with the side of a sterile disposable needle. This needle is not poked into the eye, only the side of it is placed against the eye. This procedure does not hurt.
Chronic intraocular pressure elevation can cause optic nerve damage and we call that Glaucoma. The transient (short term) pressure elevation after Cataract surgery caused by Viscoelastic Gel does NOT cause damage, and is not Glaucoma.