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Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma

What is acute angle closure glaucoma?

Increased pressure in the front chamber (anterior chamber) of the eye due to sudden (acute) blockage of the normal circulation of fluid within the eye. The block takes place at the angle of the anterior chamber formed by its junction of the cornea with the iris. This angle can be seen by simply looking at someone's eye from the side. Angle-closure glaucoma tends to affect people born with a narrow angle. People of Asian and Eskimo ancestry are at higher risk of developing it. Age and family history are risk factors. It occurs in older women more often than others.

What are the symptoms of acute angle closure glaucoma?

Acute angle closure glaucoma is one of the few types of glaucoma that causes symptoms.  The most common are:  blurred vision, colored halos, severe pain, red eye, and nausea or vomiting.  The intraocular pressure is extraordinarily high, generally 40 to 70 mmHg (normal 10 to 21).  In some cases, the cornea becomes so swollen from the elevated eye pressure, that it is impossible to examine inside the eye.  The visual symptoms caused by corneal swelling occurs from the sudden severe rise in intraocular pressure. This is most often induced by stress or low ambient light levels and occasionally by various medications. Visual loss will occur if the intraocular pressure becomes exceedingly high.

What causes acute angle closure glaucoma?

Angle-closure glaucoma can be primary due to pupillary block, or secondary due to something pulling the iris up into the angle or due to something pushing the iris up into the angle.

How do you treat acute angle closure glaucoma?

Administering eye drops and oral medication is often necessary to reduced the intraocular pressure.  After the swelling is resolved, the doctor may perform a laser peripheral iridotomy (PI) or a surgical peripheral iridectomy.

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