Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

While not as common as other types of glaucoma, narrow-angle glaucoma, also known as angle-closure glaucoma, is a serious eye condition that puts your vision at risk if not treated immediately. Instead of pressure gradually building in your eye(s) over time, a sudden increase in pressure called intraocular pressure (IOP) happens within a few hours. Here we will discuss what causes narrow-angle glaucoma and what treatments are available for it.

What Causes this Serious Condition?

Under normal circumstances, eye fluid drains out through a system of canals. These canals are located between your eye’s iris and cornea. If both parts move close together, it closes the angle between them and completely blocks these canals. When this happens suddenly, it is very painful as the pressure builds up and squeezes your optic nerve.

Narrow-angle glaucoma can be caused by your eyes dilating too quickly or too much and could happen while:

  • Using drops that dilate your eyes
  • Going into a dark room
  • Feeling stressed or excited
  • Taking certain drugs like antihistamines, antidepressants, sulfonamides, phenothiazines, topiramate, or cold medications

Certain conditions may put you at risk for this type of glaucoma, including:

  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye inflammation (uveitis)
  • Narrowed blood vessels in your eye (ocular ischemia)
  • Tumors

Other factors that may make you more susceptible to developing narrow-angle glaucoma, including:

  • Female between the ages of 55 and 65
  • Farsighted
  • If you are Asian or Inuit

You may be at increased risk for this type of glaucoma if someone in your family has had it or you take medication that dilates your pupils. If it happens in one eye, it is highly likely it may occur in your other one.

Immediate Treatment is Key to Saving Your Vision

Narrow-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency. You must be seen by an ophthalmologist immediately. The doctor will examine your eyes and ask about your symptoms. One or more tests may be done to confirm what is going on with your vision.

The first thing the eye doctor will do to treat your eye is to try to reduce some of your eye pressure. This is often done with eye drops that will narrow your pupil or medication that will reduce the amount of eye fluid.

Once the IOP has dropped a little, a laser can be used to put a small hole in your iris to get fluid flowing in your eye again. It may also be used to pull the edges of the iris away from the drainage canals. The doctor also may recommend treating your unaffected eye.

Your eyesight is too valuable a gift to fool around with. If you experience sudden eye pain or changes in vision, contact Valley Eyecare Center at (602) 955-2700 or seek immediate medical attention if the office is closed.