(Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma; Single Angle-Closure Glaucoma)
Glaucoma]]> represents a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease and one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Angle-closure glaucoma is a condition in which the iris in the eye shifts and blocks the exit passageway of the aqueous humor, the fluid that fills the eye. This fluid blockage causes a rapid build-up of pressure in the eye.
Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical treatment to preserve vision.
The exact cause of open-angle glaucoma is unknown. However, factors that play a role in causing the disease include:
- Narrowing of the drainage angle in the eye—Aging and being farsighted]]> are two causes of this narrowing.
- Being born with narrow angles
- Injury to the eye
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing angle-closure glaucoma:
- Family history of narrow angle glaucoma
- Glaucoma in one eye—This increases the risk of developing glaucoma in the other eye.
- Ethnic background—Asians are at greater risk of angle-closure glaucoma.
- Injury to the eye
- Eye drops used to dilate the eyes
- Certain systemic medications
Patients with narrow angles experience few or no symptoms until the disease has progressed to an acute angle-closure attack. Symptoms of this may include:
- Severe pain in the eye
- Facial pain
- Pupil not reacting to light
- Blurred or cloudy vision
- Redness and swelling of the eye
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Tests may include the following:
- Eye exam
- Tonometry]]> —to determine intraocular pressure
- Slit lamp examination—the use of a low-power microscope combined with a high-intensity light source, allows a narrow beam that can be focused to examine the front of the eye
- Gonioscopy—the use of a special mirror to view the drainage angle of the eye
Angle-closure glaucoma requires emergency medical treatment to preserve vision. See an ophthalmologist immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. Treatment options include:
- Medications—Eye drops, pills, and sometimes even intravenous drugs are often administered to reduce intraocular pressure.
- Surgery—Surgery (usually done by laser) may be used to stop or prevent an attack of angle-closure glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma cannot be prevented, but prompt medical treatment can reduce the risk of vision loss. Patients at high risk of having an angle-closure glaucoma attack may undergo preventive surgery to open a new channel in the iris. Since you can’t tell if you have narrow angles, it is important to have a comprehensive eye examination regularly.
The Glaucoma Foundation
Glaucoma Research Foundation
St. Luke's Eye Cataract & Laser Institute
Glaucoma Research Society of Canada
Acute glaucoma (primary angle closure glaucoma). International Glaucoma Association website. Available at: http://www.glaucoma-association.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=714&=fromcfc&tt=article&lang=en&site_id=483 . Accessed July 16, 2007.
Blindness. World Health Organization website. Available at: http://www.who.int/topics/blindness/en/ .
Glaucoma. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. US National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001620.htm . Accessed June 27, 2007.
Glaucoma. US National Institutes of Health. National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp . Accessed June 27, 2007.
Spaeth G. What is angle closure glaucoma? Glaucoma Service Foundation to Prevent Blindness website. Available at: http://wills-glaucoma.org/aclose.htm . Accessed June 27, 2007.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Christopher Cheyer, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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