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Top 6 Most Common Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common eye condition that can often go undetected until significant vision loss has occurred. One form of glaucoma, called angle-closure glaucoma, happens when the drainage angle of the eye becomes blocked.

This can lead to increased eye pressure and optic nerve damage over time. Angle-closure glaucoma is one type of glaucoma that can have obvious symptoms. 

However, in combination with apparent symptoms, angle-closure glaucoma can also permanently damage your vision quickly. It is important to be familiar with the most common symptoms so you can seek treatment right away if you experience them. 

Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma, including the six most common symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma!

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve over time. The optic nerve is a bundle of over a million nerve fibers that connect your eye to your brain. 

Any vision loss due to optic nerve damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. As the condition progressively gets worse, it can lead to total blindness over time. 

In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of sixty. Glaucoma is caused by an increase in eye pressure. 

Fluid that supplies the inside of the eye with nutrients is supposed to filter out as quickly as it is created. However, the meshwork in the eye that drains the fluid can become clogged or blocked. 

When the fluid is blocked, your eye does not know to slow down production of fluid. This means more liquid is constantly entering the eye than leaving, increasing pressure in the eye.

How quickly glaucoma damages your optic nerve depends on a couple of factors. First, it likely depends on how durable your optic nerve is. 

It also depends on which type of glaucoma you have, like open-angle glaucoma or angle-closure glaucoma.

How Is Open-Angle Glaucoma Different Than Angle-Closure Glaucoma?

The biggest difference between open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma is how narrow or closed off the drainage angle is. The meshwork that drains the eye fluid is located at an angle between the cornea and the iris. 

In open-angle glaucoma, while there may be blockages further in the meshwork, the angle remains open. Fluid may be partially clogged further in the drainage channel, but fluid is still able to pass through the angle easily.

Open-angle glaucoma develops very slowly over the years. Open-angle glaucoma typically doesn’t have very many obvious symptoms besides gradual vision loss. 

The vision loss also happens so slowly that you are not likely to notice it before much of your eyesight has gone forever. Regular visits to the eye doctor are important if you want to avoid losing vision to glaucoma. 

Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, can cause permanent damage to your vision quickly. It happens when the drainage angle is completely shut, leaving no room for fluid to escape and exit the eye through the meshwork.

 With angle-closure glaucoma, eye pressure can spike very high quickly. This can cause rapid vision loss. 

Unlike open-angle glaucoma and most other types of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma features a number of very noticeable symptoms.    

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma?

It is important to recognize when you might be experiencing angle-closure glaucoma. It is also called an acute attack, and it is a medical emergency. 

Immediate assistance is needed to avoid as much damage as possible. If you notice these symptoms, you may be experiencing acute angle-closure glaucoma:

Eye Pain

Eye pain is one of the most common symptoms of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. The pain may be severe, come on suddenly, and typically affects only one eye.

Headache or Browache

Along with eye pain, angle-closure glaucoma attacks often cause headaches or browaches. This head or brow pain affects the same side as the affected eye and can be quite severe.

Seek emergency care if you develop a sudden, severe headache or browache along with eye pain or vision issues.

Decreased or Blurry Vision

Angle-closure glaucoma attacks frequently cause vision changes like blurred vision or losing parts of your sight. The vision loss often affects just one eye and can seem to come on suddenly. 

Nausea or Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting often accompany the intense eye pain of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. The nausea and vomiting can be quite severe and debilitating. 

Seeing Rainbows or Halos

Some people with an angle-closure glaucoma attack report seeing rainbows, halos, or colored rings around lights. This disturbed or unusual vision can indicate increased eye pressure and angle closure.

Eye Redness

Redness of the white part of the eye often accompanies an angle-closure glaucoma attack. This redness is due to irritation and swelling from the extremely high eye pressure.

If you experience any symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma, seek emergency medical care right away. If you experience a combination of these symptoms, it’s especially important to get emergency care immediately and not wait.

Angle-closure glaucoma attacks are medical emergencies that can quickly lead to permanent vision damage or even blindness if left untreated. Seeking emergency medical intervention can help save your vision and prevent further damage.

Do you want to learn more about angle-closure glaucoma or determine if you may be at risk? Schedule an appointment at Eye Associates of Tallahassee in Tallahassee, FL, today!


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