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Narrow Down Your Chances of Developing Acute Narrow Angle Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that is brought about by increased pressure inside the eyes or what is called intraocular pressure. The increase in pressure can damage your retina and optic nerves which prevent them from functioning normally. Your retina and optic nerve are responsible for transmitting light to your brain where it is transformed into images. When you suffer from glaucoma, you are at risk of having severe vision loss or even blindness if it is not treated early.

Glaucoma may be classified as either acute narrow angle or open angle. Here are some helpful information about the acute narrow angle kind:

•    This type may also be called angle closure or narrow angle glaucoma.

•    It is not as common as the open angle kind. It only affects less than 10% of a Caucasian population.  Interestingly narrow angle glaucoma is more common in an Asian population.

•    This is more serious than the open angle type.

•    This condition is often hereditary.

•    It commonly occurs in elderly women who are farsighted. The risk increases with age and it is most common in people who are 60 years old and above.

•    Diabetes can increase your risk of developing acute narrow angle glaucoma.

•    This condition normally occurs if you have a shallow space between your cornea at the front of your eye and the colored iris that is behind your cornea. As you age, your pupil becomes smaller while and the lens behind it grows bigger. When this happens, the flow of fluid to the drainage site in your eye is restricted. Fluid may build up behind your iris and block the channel that allows aqueous fluid to drain. With this blockage, your intraocular pressure may rise rapidly.

•    When you suffer from this condition, you may exhibit symptoms such as having blurry vision, seeing colored halos around lights and redness and severe pain in the eye.

•    If there is a sudden increase of intraocular pressure, you may experience severe pain in your eye which can be accompanied by vomiting and nausea. This is an emergency situation which requires immediate treatment. You should call your eye doctor immediately or proceed to the emergency room so you can receive the necessary treatment to preserve your vision and to avoid this type of glaucoma from worsening.

•    Occasionally acute narrow angle glaucoma can be misdiagnosed as a stomach virus due to the vomiting and nausea symptoms.  If your optometrist has advise you that you are at risk make sure you mention this to the emergency doctor.

•    If you are at risk of developing this condition, make sure to note some medications that can further increase your risk. Consult your doctor or read the package carefully to ascertain whether or not a medication is good for you. You should also have regular eye check-ups to assess the health of your eyes as early detection and treatment are essential in addressing this disease.

•    This condition can be treated through peripheral iridectomy or a laser procedure called laser iridotomy that creates a new opening in the iris so that the aqueous fluid can move more easily to the drainage site in your eye. While only one eye may be affected with glaucoma, both eyes may be subjected to this procedure because the other eye is also at risk of developing the condition.

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

Comments (2)

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  1. Sandra Jones says:

    I thank you so much for this “Eye Opening” information. 🙂 I just had the surgery done on one eye yesterday. Yes I believe it’s hereditary from my mom. My Sis is going to check her eyes now also. I wondered why I’d get nauseous when I’d awaken in the mornings! I’d take a bite of something and it would go right away, but I couldn’t figure why it happened. The doctor only mentioned the headaches and hadn’t mentioned the nausea. Thank you because I’ve been hoping it wasn’t some kind of stomach cancer. He told me I’ve had this for a long time and it’s truly been a while since I’ve felt the nausea. I also was thinking that maybe only one eye could have the pressure so why do both eyes!? And he did the eye I thought may not have pressure like the other. But once again, you have helped to open my eyes to the understanding! THANKS…MORE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!

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