Glaucoma represents a group of eye disorders that may cause damage to the optic nerve due to high intraocular pressure. 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 fluid in the front compartment of 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.
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The exact cause of narrow-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—more common in people who are Asian
- Injury to the eye
Sometimes certain medications can cause sudden angle-closure glaucoma. These include:
- Botulism injections around the eye
- Sulfa-based drugs
- Phenothiazines and monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Medications to treat Parkinson's disease
Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in older aging adults and in Asian people. Other factors that may increase your chance of developing angle-closure glaucoma include:
- Family history of narrow angle glaucoma
- Injury to the eye
- Eye drops used to dilate the eyes
- Certain systemic medications
- Developing cataracts
Patients with narrow angles experience few or no symptoms until the disease has progressed to an acute angle-closure attack. Symptoms may include:
- Severe pain in the eye
- Pupil not reacting to light
- Blurred or cloudy vision
- Sudden vision loss
- Redness and swelling of the eye
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
- Eye exam
- Tonometry —a test 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—to examine the outflow channels of the angle
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 may be used to stop or prevent an attack of angle-closure glaucoma. This is usually done by laser.
Angle-closure glaucoma can't be prevented. Regular eye exams are important to screen for eye conditions such as glaucoma.
- Eric Berman, MD
- Reviewed: 06/2014
- Updated: 07/17/2014
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