Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma is a rare and serious form of glaucoma that can cause irreversible vision loss and blindness by damaging the optic nerve. It also goes by the names closed-angle glaucoma and narrow-angle glaucoma. Much less common than primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is considered to be an eye emergency that requires immediate treatment intervention. If angle-closure glaucoma is not addressed quickly, and intraocular pressure is not reduced within a few hours, permanent vision loss can occur.

Our team of trusted ophthalmologists at California Retina Associates treat angle-closure glaucoma in San Diego from offices located in La Mesa, Chula Vista and El Centro.

Understanding Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The eye is constantly producing a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid circulates in the front of the eye and drains from the eye through the drainage angle, which is located where the iris (the colored part of the eye) meets the clear covering of the eye (cornea). In a healthy eye, there is a delicate equilibrium between the fluid that circulates inside the eye and the fluid that drains from the eye through tissue called the trabecular meshwork. This balance of fluid in and fluid out keeps the pressure inside the eye steady.

In cases of glaucoma, the drainage angle narrows, making it difficult for fluid to drain from the eye. In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage angle becomes clogged, so fluid drains slower than normal. But in angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage angle closes and fluid cannot drain at all.

This can happen for several reasons. The iris can be pushed forward so much that it closes the drainage angle completely, preventing any fluid from draining from the eye. As a result of this, the pressure inside the eye rises very quickly, causing noticeable visual and physical symptoms and putting the optic nerve at serious risk of damage.

Angle-closure glaucoma can also occur more frequently in people that are farsighted, as they are more likely to have naturally narrow drainage angles.

Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Compared to the symptoms of open-angle glaucoma, which develop slowly and sometimes subtly, the symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma usually cannot be ignored. Common symptoms include blurry vision, severe eye pain, red eyes, headaches, nausea, vomiting and rings or halos around lights.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Risk Factors for Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma is more likely to affect individuals who:

  • Are over the age of 60
  • Are women
  • Are of Asian or Indian descent
  • Have a family history of angle-closure glaucoma
  • Have smaller eyes
  • Are farsighted

Treating Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Our San Diego angle-closure glaucoma treatment team approaches cases several different ways. Our goal is to reduce intraocular pressure as quickly as possible.

We can use traditional or laser surgery techniques to remove a small portion of the iris to unblock the drainage channels and improve the outflow of fluid. This reduces intraocular pressure to save the optic nerve.

We can also administer systemic medications or topical eye drops in conjunction with a laser or surgical procedure, to stabilize intraocular pressure.

Contact California Retina Associates

For more information about angle-closure glaucoma, we invite you to call or email our practice today. We proudly serve the entire San Diego area from three convenient locations.