Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

Eye Exam

Narrow-Angle Glaucoma

The drainage canals get blocked or covered over

Narrow-angle glaucoma is more rare and is very different from open-angle glaucoma in that eye pressure can go up very fast. This happens when the drainage canals get blocked or covered over. The iris gets pushed against the cornea of the eye, shutting off the drainage angle. Sometimes the cornea and the iris stick to each other. This results in pressure increasing steadily or suddenly, usually in one eye. If the pressure increases rapidly, there may be a feeling of fullness in the eye along with reddening, swelling and blurred vision. Occasionally, this can be severe enough to cause significant pain or even nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms of narrow-angle glaucoma:

The onset of acute narrow-angle glaucoma is typically rapid, constituting an emergency. If not treated promptly, this glaucoma can produce blindness in the affected eye in three to five days. Symptoms may include:

  • Inflammation and pain
  • Pressure over the eye
  • Moderate pupil dilation that’s non-reactive to light
  • Cloudy cornea
  • Blurring and decreased visual acuity
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Causes of narrow-angle glaucoma:

  • Small eye with a narrow angle space
  • Anything that causes the pupil to dilate — dim lighting, dilation drops, especially in a patient with a small eye or narrow angle space
  • Certain oral or injected medications
  • Blow to the eye

Diagnosing narrow-angle glaucoma:

Narrow-Angle GlaucomaEveryone should be checked for glaucoma at around age 35 and again at age 40. Those considered to be at higher risk for narrow-angle glaucoma, including those who are Asian, farsighted or over the age of 60, should have their pressure checked every year or two.

Because of the rapid, potentially devastating results of narrow-angle glaucoma, you should seek medical treatment immediately if you experience any of the above symptoms.

During eye exams, your doctor will use tonometry to check your eye pressure. After applying numbing drops, the tonometer is gently pressed against the eye and its resistance is measured and recorded.

An ophthaolmoscope can be used to examine the shape and color of your optic nerve. The ophthalmoscope magnifies and lights up the inside of the eye. If the optic nerve appears to be cupped or is not a healthy pink color, additional tests will be run.

Gonioscopy is used to determine whether the angle where the iris meets the cornea is open or closed, a key difference between open-angle glaucoma and narrow-angle glaucoma.

Treatment for narrow-angle glaucoma:

Narrow-Angle GlaucomaLaser iridotomy is a common treatment for narrow-angle glaucoma. During this procedure, a laser is used to create a small hole in the iris, restoring the flow of fluid to the front of the eye. In most patients, the iridotomy is placed in the lower portion of the iris, where it does not cause glare.

Filtration surgery is performed when medicines and/or laser surgery are unsuccessful in controlling eye pressure. During this microscopic procedure, a new drainage channel is created to allow fluid to drain from the eye. In addition, eye drops and even oral medications can be used to treat the elevated eye pressure.

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