What is acute or angle closure glaucoma and what are the treatment options in Columbus, Ohio?

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is the result of a sudden increase in the intraocular pressure of the eye. This form of glaucoma is rare and differs from open-angle glaucoma in which the intraocular pressure of the eye rises gradually. Angle-closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is necessary to prevent damage to the optic nerve and permanent vision loss.

Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage canals located in the eye’s anterior chamber become blocked. This prevents the fluid that normally flows through these canals from draining properly. This is similar to the plumbing in your home becoming clogged. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye increases. The iris of individuals with angle-closure glaucoma is not as open and wide as in other individuals. If the iris enlarges too much or too fast, the edges can bunch up over the drainage canals. A sudden dilation of the pupils, such as that caused by entering a dark room, can trigger angle-closure glaucoma in susceptible individuals.

In the U.S., less than 10 percent of glaucoma cases are the result of angle-closure glaucoma. People of Asian descent and Eskimos have a higher risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma than Caucasians. The risk also increases with age as the lens of the eye naturally enlarges, which causes the iris to push forward.

In an acute case of angle-closure glaucoma, it is not uncommon for only one eye to be affected. Typical symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:

• Sudden eye pain
• Headaches
• Very blurred vision
• Nausea
• A rainbow effect around lights at night

Angle-closure glaucoma is normally treated with laser or conventional surgery. During the procedure, a small portion of the outer edge of the iris is removed. This helps to unblock the drainage canals so that the fluid can drain from the eye. In most cases, doctors will treat both eyes as a safety measure, even if the glaucoma is only present in one eye. Surgery for angle-closure glaucoma has a high success rate and typically lasts for a long time. It is advised that individuals who have had angle-closure glaucoma get regular eye exams that include a check of intraocular pressure since it is still possible to develop a chronic form of glaucoma.