Understanding Angle-Closure Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Glaucoma is a term that many of us have heard, especially as we age and our eye health becomes a greater concern. There are different types of glaucoma, each with its unique characteristics and demands for treatment. Angle-closure glaucoma is form of glaucoma can occur suddenly or gradually and is considered a medical emergency. Understanding the specifics of this condition, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, can help you recognize the signs early and seek medical care.


Understanding Angle-Closure Glaucoma


Angle-closure glaucoma is a serious condition that occurs when the fluid inside the eye is unable to drain properly. This leads to a rapid increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) which can cause damage to the optic nerve. The angle in this context refers to the area between the iris and cornea, through which fluid must flow to leave the eye.


In a healthy eye, this fluid, known as aqueous humor, flows freely. However, in the case of angle-closure glaucoma, the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. When the fluid is blocked, pressure builds, leading to this aggressive form of glaucoma.


The key here is that angle-closure glaucoma can be either chronic or acute. The latter is particularly dangerous and requires immediate medical attention, as it can lead to blindness within a day of its onset if not treated promptly.


Causes of Angle-Closure Glaucoma


As with many health conditions, there are several factors that may increase your risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma. One of the primary causes is simply the physical structure of your eye. Individuals with certain conditions or characteristics may have a narrower than normal drainage angle, including those who are farsighted or have a shallow anterior chamber—the space in the front of the eye.


Age is another significant risk factor. Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in adults over the age of 60, and the risk increases with each passing decade.


Additionally, if you have a family history of angle-closure glaucoma, your risk of developing the condition is higher.


Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma


The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma can vary dramatically depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency and its symptoms are often severe and sudden. They might include blurred vision, severe eye pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, and seeing halos around lights.


In contrast, chronic angle-closure glaucoma develops more slowly and therefore, symptoms may not be as noticeable. In some cases, people might not even realize they have this condition until they've experienced significant vision loss. This is why regular eye examinations are so crucial, particularly for those with increased risk factors.


Treatment Options 


Treatment for angle-closure glaucoma aims to reduce the eye pressure as quickly as possible. This is usually achieved through medications, laser therapy, or surgery.


Medications, often in the form of eye drops, can help to reduce the production of aqueous humor or increase its outflow, thereby lowering eye pressure. Laser therapy, known as laser peripheral iridotomy, involves creating a small hole in the iris to allow fluid to flow more freely.


In some cases, surgery may be necessary. One surgical option is a trabeculectomy, where a piece of tissue in the eye's drainage angle is removed to create a new drainage path. Another is the implantation of a drainage tube.




Angle-closure glaucoma is a serious eye condition that requires immediate medical attention. Understanding the causes and symptoms of this disease, along with the importance of regular eye check-ups for early detection, can help save your sight. Treatment options are available and can be highly effective, particularly when the condition is caught early.


To learn more on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for angle-closure glaucoma, visit Advanced Vision Institute in our Las Vegas, Nevada offices. Call (702) 819-9800 to schedule an appointment today.

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