Angle closure glaucoma is an eye disease/condition that occurs due to an increase in the pressure of the inside of the eyes. The condition can be acute or chronic. Acute means that it is temporary and chronic is long lasting. Angle closure glaucoma is characterized by pain and blurred vision. Sometimes glaucoma can be triggered by an underlying disease. There is also another type of glaucoma called open angle or wide angle glaucoma. This article will only focus on angle closure glaucoma.
Normally, the eyes produce fluids that not only lubricate and assist eye ball movement, but also keep the eyes healthy. As new fluids are created continuously, there is a constant need for a drain mechanism, which keeps the pressure of the inside and outside of the eye at normal levels. This mechanism is medically called the angle, due to its shape and appearance where the iris meets the cornea. If for some reason, this angle gets blocked, there is a pressure built-up inside the eye socket; the pressure can build to very alarming levels, resulting in the condition called angle closure glaucoma.
This angle can be nonfunctioning for many reasons. It may be narrow at the time of birth; the angle may get narrower and become blocked as the person ages. A blow to the eye could also cause a blockage in the angle. Diabetes and hypertension might cause abnormal blood vessel growth resulting in the constriction of the angle. It is not uncommon to find the symptoms of glaucoma in only one eye, but a sudden onset of angle closure glaucoma often causes distress in both the eyes.
Symptoms of angle closure glaucoma
Symptoms of the angle closed glaucoma are similar to that of any case of glaucoma. The symptoms are extremely distressing and annoying to the patient. The most common symptoms are listed below:
Redness of the eyes
Severe eye pain
Excessive tearing of the eyes
Colored halos are seen around lights
Loss of vision
If the symptoms of angle closure glaucoma are triggered by a temporary blockage of the angle, they will subside when the angle reopens. The angle may reopen when the patient rests.
Diagnosis and treatment for angle closure glaucoma
Diagnosis of glaucoma requires the measurement of one’s Intraocular pressure (IOP). A test called a gonioscopy will need to be done. A gonioscopy is performed with a special kind of lens or prism to establish if there is a blockage in the angle of the eye.
There are many different types of eye drops that can be used to treat angle closure glaucoma. Oral medications may also be taken if the eye drops are not enough to reduce the intraocular pressure.
A surgical procedure called an iridotomy is performed in emergencies. An Iridotomy is a tiny hole that is laser driven into the iris of the eye; the purpose of an Iridotomy is to clear away the blockage and reduce the pressure of the accumulating fluid.
In some cases of angle closure glaucoma where there is permanent damage done to the drain mechanism of the angle, a plastic drain tube called an aqueous shunt is placed in the eye to bypass the blockage to allow the fluid to exit the inside of the eye and get absorbed back to the vessels outside the eye.
Sometimes, in angle closure glaucoma the lens may get dislocated. If the lens becomes dislocated more sophisticated surgical procedures may need to be done to save the person’s eyesight. In some cases, the dislocated structures in the affected eye may have to be totally removed to clear the blockages. If the lens needs to be removed, an implanted artificial lens may be a treatment option.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are common triggers for angle closure glaucoma. Taking preventive measures to reduce your likelihood of developing diabetes and hypertension is a good way to prevent glaucoma. If you are diabetic and have hypertension, it is vitally important to get both conditions under control with diet and also with medications, if necessary.
If you have symptoms of glaucoma, you should be examined immediately by your eye doctor. If you ignore the symptoms you could suffer from total vision loss. Several topical applications are available, which help in relieving the pressure and stop the accumulation of fluids both in the inside and the outside of the eye. Surgical procedures help to immediately reduce the excess intraocular pressure.
If you have a history of hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, or if you have far-sighted vision, you should see your eye doctor for periodical testing for glaucoma so that it can be detected early, if you have it.