Glaucoma drainage implants: a critical comparison of types

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2006 Apr;17(2):181-9. doi: 10.1097/


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to critically compare the various glaucoma drainage implants in popular use.

Recent findings: Glaucoma drainage implants are being increasingly utilized in the surgical management of glaucoma. Comparisons between the various drainage implants are difficult because most clinical data are derived from retrospective studies with different study populations, follow-up periods, and criteria defining success. The type of glaucoma under treatment is a major factor influencing surgical outcomes. The resistance to aqueous flow through glaucoma drainage implants occurs across the fibrous capsule around the end plate, and the major determinants of the final intraocular pressure are capsular thickness and filtration surface area. The use of antifibrotic agents as adjuncts to drainage implant surgery has not proven effective in modulating capsular thickness. Valved implants appear to reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of hypotony. Bleb encapsulation is more frequently seen with the Ahmed valve implant than other drainage implants. Diplopia was a common complication with the Baerveldt glaucoma implant after its introduction, but design modifications have markedly reduced the incidence of this complication.

Summary: There are several glaucoma drainage implants that are currently available, and all have been shown to be safe and effective in reducing intraocular pressure. Greater pressure reduction may be achieved with implants with larger end plates, and valved implants appear to reduce the risk of postoperative hypotony.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Glaucoma / surgery*
  • Glaucoma Drainage Implants / classification*
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology
  • Prosthesis Implantation*