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What is Acute Angle Glaucoma?

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  • Written By: Stephany Seipel
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Acute angle glaucoma, also called acute angle-closure glaucoma, is a disorder caused by sudden and excessive pressure within the eye. It causes a number of severe and painful symptoms. This condition requires prompt medical intervention to prevent permanent vision loss.

In this disorder, the iris pushes or pulls against the drainage channels and blocks the aqueous humor, which is a fluid that normally drains from the posterior chamber to the anterior chamber and drainage channels. This increases the intraocular pressure, or the pressure inside the eye. The pressure can damage the optic nerve, which is the nerve that sends visual information to the brain.

Acute angle glaucoma is worse in farsighted people and is more prevalent in Eskimos and in people of Asian ancestry than in Caucasians. It happens more often in females than in males, and it occurs more frequently in people who are in their 60s or 70s than in younger individuals. The condition might also develop if the pupils are dilated during an eye examination.

Patients who have acute angle glaucoma often complain of blurry vision, vision loss, headaches, eye pain and red, watery eyes. Some people experience nausea and vomiting, and others see halos around objects. The symptoms usually continue until the pressure in the eye lessens.

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Ophthalmologists diagnose the condition using a number of specialized tests. Tonometry tests check for glaucoma by flattening the cornea and measuring the amount of pressure that was required. In a separate test called ophthalmoscopy, the doctor uses an instrument called an ophthalmoscope and a magnifying lens to look for damage to the optic nerve.

Biomicroscopy tests involve the use of a slit lamp, which is a type of microscope that looks at the front part of the eye. The doctor might also perform a gonioscopy. He or she places a specialized contact lens on the eye to measure its drainage angle.

The ophthalmologist treats acute angle glaucoma by administering medications that lower the eye pressure. He or she might need to perform surgery to release the pressure inside the eye. Some patients might need to continue using medication after surgery to keep the intraocular pressure from building up again in the eyes.

Many people regain their lost vision if the condition is treated promptly. Complications can include permanent vision loss, glaucoma or repeated attacks. Some individuals who are at a high risk of acute angle glaucoma choose to have preventative surgery to reduce their eye pressure before problems occur.

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