What is Angle-Closure Glaucoma?

Mar 03, 2023
What is Angle-Closure Glaucoma?
Don’t ignore sudden eye pain and halos around lights — it could be angle-closure glaucoma, which requires immediate medical attention. Keep reading to find out what our expert says about this dangerous condition.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve, and it’s the No. 2 cause of blindness in the United States. The four main types of glaucoma are:

  • Open-angle glaucoma: develops gradually and is the most common type
  • Angle-closure or closed-angle glaucoma: sudden onset of severe eye pressure
  • Secondary glaucoma: related to a primary source like diabetes, injury, or medications
  • Congenital glaucoma: genetic condition present at birth

Our glaucoma specialist, Dr. Maher Fanous at North Florida Eye Center, has been a trusted ophthalmologist in Gainesville and Chiefland for years, known for his expertise and compassionate manner. Dr. Fanous treats all types of glaucoma but focuses here on one — angle-closure glaucoma, which can have serious consequences if not treated promptly. In this blog post, he explains angle-closure glaucoma and how we treat it. 

What is angle-closure glaucoma? 

Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris — the colored part of your eye — blocks fluid outflow, resulting in increased pressure on the optic nerve. This increased pressure can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, leading to vision loss or blindness. It usually affects only one eye at a time but can affect both eyes if left untreated. 

Common angle-closure glaucoma symptoms

The most common symptom of angle-closure glaucoma is a sudden onset of severe pain in one or both eyes. You may also experience blurred vision and rainbow halos around lights. 

It’s important to seek medical attention from a specialist who understands glaucoma well, like Dr. Fanous, as soon as possible; if left untreated, angle-closure glaucoma can lead to irreversible vision loss or blindness. 

How we treat angle-closure glaucoma

First-line treatment options for angle-closure glaucoma include eye drops and oral medications.  

If conservative measures don’t improve your condition, laser surgery can help. This procedure uses a beam of light energy to open the clogged channels, allowing fluid to flow again and pressure to subside.

If laser surgery doesn’t produce adequate results, Dr. Fanous performs minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) such as trabeculectomy, which removes tissue that blocks fluid flow,  or tube shunt surgery, the placement of a catheter in the drainage canal to allow fluid to flow out.

The MIGS procedure only requires a local anesthetic, and you can go home afterward — although you’ll need a friend or family member to drive you. Eye drops keep your eyes moist and protected after surgery, and you may wear an eye patch for extra insurance. Besides avoiding strenuous exercise for a couple of weeks, you should be able to return to your normal routine after MIGS. 

Can I prevent angle-closure glaucoma?

Regular eye exams and checkups with Dr. Fanous are key to preventing angle-closure glaucoma from occurring or worsening, especially if you’re over 40 or have a family history of glaucoma. Dr. Fanous may recommend additional tests, such as visual field testing or optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans, to diagnose potential issues early on.  

Angle-closure glaucoma takeaways

Angle-closure glaucoma is a serious condition that requires prompt treatment to avoid serious vision loss or blindness. 

Regular ophthalmology checkups are critical for preventing angle-closure glaucoma from occurring or worsening; Dr. Fanous may also recommend additional tests to check for early warning signs of glaucoma. 

Contact us if you develop symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma, such as sudden and severe pain in one or both eyes, blurred vision, and rainbow halos around lights. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling our offices in Gainesville and Chiefland, Florida. Save your sight — don’t ignore the signs of glaucoma.