Narrow Angle Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Narrow angle glaucoma is a rare type of glaucoma. What is glaucoma? A glaucoma is a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve supply to the eye is damaged due to increase pressure within the eye. Increased pressure with the eye is called increase Intraocular pressure and the optic nerve is the main nerve of the eye which sends images to the brain and helps the eye to see things.

Due to raised intraocular pressure, the optic nerve is compressed and persistent compression may damage it. Thus, it may cause sudden vision loss or total blindness in a few years. It is the main cause of blindness in people over the age of 60 years.

It gets worse with time. It runs in families. It is the most common eye condition in our population. Mostly people having glaucoma do not have any symptoms or pain in the initial stages. Therefore, regular checkup of the eye, especially after the age of 50, is very important.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two types of glaucoma

1- Open-angle glaucoma

It is the most common type of glaucoma in which your drainage system of the eye looks normal but fluid doesn’t flow out.

2- Closed-angle glaucoma

Narrow angle glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma which develops quickly and needs a medical emergency. It is a condition of the eye in which the drainage system of the eye blocked which resulting in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure. Narrow angle glaucoma is also known as closed angle glaucoma.

What Are The Causes Of Narrow Angle Glaucoma?

Iris is the structure of the eye which is a colored part of the eye and surrounds the pupil.
narrow-angle glaucoma is caused by the iris being bowed forward resulting in restriction of the space between the clear cornea and the iris where the angle of the eye is formed. Due to this narrow space, fluid doesn’t move out and the pressure of the fluid increases behind this blockage.

Some Conditions are associated with narrow-angle glaucoma. That may include:

  • Hyperopia

People who are farsighted, are at high risk of getting this type of glaucoma due to shallow anterior chamber and narrow angles that may cause an obstruction in the drainage system

  • Tumors

Any tumor of the eye behind the iris may cause a restriction in space between the cornea and the iris where the angle of the drainage system is located.

  • Diabetes mellitus

Common Symptoms of Narrow Angle Glaucoma

When the pressure increase within the eye due to a blocked drainage system, it exerts pressure on the adjacent structure of the eye which may produce some signs and symptoms in patients. The most common symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma may include:
Severe eye pain or headache

  • blurred vision
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Nausea, or vomiting
  • Eye discomfort
  • The appearance of rainbow-colored shadows around bright lights
  • Sudden loss of vision in the affected eye

Symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma are very obvious and damage occurs quickly as compare to open angle glaucoma. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible because it is a medical emergency.

Risk Factors Associated With Narrow Angle Glaucoma

Following factors may be associated with the narrow angle glaucoma

  • Age (above 50/60 years)
  • Farsightedness
  • Race ( common in Asians)
  • Cataract ( it may leading cause of glaucoma)
  • Sex ( most common in women)

How Narrow Angle Glaucoma Can Be Diagnosed?

It is not difficult to diagnose especially in old age people or the people having associated diseases. However, it can be diagnosed by Proper History and Clinical examination of the eye. Your eye specialist uses Gonioscopy to see the narrow angles inside the eye. As this condition is rare, therefore, only 10 to 20 percent of the narrow angles can get narrow angle glaucoma.

Management of Narrow Angle Glaucoma

Narrow angle glaucoma needs emergency treatment. As you get the symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Treatment varies from patient to patient, depending on the age of the patient, extent of the disease, and patient compliance.

  1. Medication

First of all eye drops are given to lower the eye pressure and oral medications may also be prescribed by your physician. These topical drops dilate the chamber and allow the fluid to pass out temporarily. But the definitive treatment at the time of the glaucoma attack is a laser iridotomy

  1. Laser Iridotomy

This is the safe procedure in which a small hole is formed in the iris to allow the iris to stay away from the drained area within the eye. This hole is just like an “escape” valve, thus, the pressure in the front of the eye equalizes the pressure in the back of the eye.

With these measurements, intraocular pressure falls down and the symptoms begin to resolve. However, it is curable, if diagnosed early and treated at the time of glaucoma attack. Otherwise, it may lead to permanent vision loss or total blindness.

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