What is Narrow Angle Glaucoma?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on October 4, 2023

Glaucoma is a dangerous eye condition that can cause a variety of symptoms and can permanently damage your vision if left untreated. There are many different types of glaucoma. 

Keep reading to learn more about narrow angle glaucoma!

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma often occurs when the pressure inside your eye becomes higher than normal, which can damage your vision. Your eye creates a fluid called aqueous humor, which is important for keeping your eye healthy.

This fluid must drain out at the same rate it’s made to keep the pressure steady. If there is too much fluid within the eye, the eye pressure will rise and potentially damage the optic nerve.

In glaucoma, there is a problem within the drainage system, preventing a steady flow of fluid leaving the eye. Think of it like a sink with a clogged drain. 

This makes it harder for the fluid to flow out, and the pressure inside the eye gradually increases. Damage to this nerve can lead to vision loss, starting with your side vision and eventually affecting what’s right in front of you.

What Is Narrow-Angle Glaucoma?

Unlike open-angle glaucoma, where there is a problem within the trabecular meshwork, narrow-angle glaucoma prevents fluid from reaching the trabecular meshwork. The drainage angle is between the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, and the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye. 

In narrow-angle glaucoma, this angle is very small, which can prevent the consistent flow of fluid through the drainage channels of the eye. In some cases, this angle can completely close, restricting fluid drainage completely. 

This is called angle-closure glaucoma and is considered a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. If left untreated, narrow-angle glaucoma can cause severe damage to the optic nerve and result in rapid vision loss. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to be aware of the symptoms and seek prompt medical care if you experience them. Regular eye check-ups can help detect any risk factors for narrow-angle glaucoma and prevent potential vision-threatening emergencies.

What Are The Symptoms Of Narrow Angle Glaucoma?

Open angle glaucoma is often symptomless, causing little to no noticeable symptoms until the condition has progressed significantly. Narrow angle glaucoma can also be symptomless in some cases.

However, if the drainage channel narrows further due to various reasons, narrow angle glaucoma can easily turn into angle-closure glaucoma, causing a rapid onset of symptoms. Severe pain, headache, blurred vision, and nausea are examples of signs of acute angle closure glaucoma. 

These symptoms constitute a medical emergency, and you should seek help immediately if you experience them. 

Can Narrow Angle Glaucoma Be Treated?

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, both open angle and narrow angle glaucoma can be effectively managed. Special medicated eye drops can keep eye pressure regulated, and shunts placed in the eye can quickly relieve eye pressure. 

A laser peripheral iridotomy may be necessary for patients with narrow angle glaucoma. This procedure is used to create a new path for the internal eye fluid to traverse.

The best way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma is to visit your eye doctor for routine eye exams. During regular eye exams, your eye doctor can detect glaucoma early and develop a treatment plan to help control glaucoma.

Has it been a while since your last eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Missouri Eye Institute in Branson, MO, today!


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