Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma: What Is It?

Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness in persons over the age of 60. Glaucoma-related blindness, can generally be prevented with the right and prompt treatment.

Difference Between Acute and Chronic Angle-closure Glaucoma

chronic angle closure glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma (also known as closed-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma) develops when the iris of a person’s eye blocks the drainage angle. It is similar to a piece of paper slipping down a sink drain. Eye pressure begins to rise when the drainage angle becomes entirely blocked. If this happens suddenly, then it is considered acute.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a serious eye emergency, and you should contact an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you do not want to lose your vision permanently.

The following are the signs and symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma:

  • your vision has become unexpectedly blurry
  • you have a lot of pain in your eyes
  • you are suffering from a headache
  • you have a stomachache (nausea)
  • you throw up (vomit)
  • around lights, you perceive rainbow-colored rings or halos


Chronic Angle-closure glaucoma 

A large number of patients develop angle-closure glaucoma slowly. Chronic angle-closure glaucoma is the medical term for this condition if it develops through a long period of time and not abruptly. Because there are no symptoms at first, people do not realize they have it until the damage is severe or they experience an acute angle-closure attack. One in every three people (30%) who has this condition will experience a sudden blockage, resulting in an attack.

chronic angle closure glaucoma

Causes, Risks, and Diagnosis of Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The exact cause of this condition is unknown to doctors. They believe there could be a variety of causes, including:

  • a lens that is excessively big (keeping fluid from flowing normally through the pupil)
  • an iris that is noticeably thicker than usual
  • an iris with a fluid-blocking roll on one side (called “plateau iris”)

One or more of these conditions can cause the drainage angle to gradually close, resulting in an increase in ocular pressure.

chronic angle closure glaucoma

Who Is at Risk?

Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in some people than in others. This includes those who:

  • are over the age of 50
  • have relatives that suffer from angle-closure glaucoma
  • either Asian or Inuit in origin
  • are women
  • farsighted
  • having a huge lens inside the eye or an exceptionally small eye

Consult an ophthalmologist about your chances of developing glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma is more likely in people who have more than one of these risk factors.


How Can You Know if You Have Chronic Angle-closure Glaucoma?

A comprehensive eye exam is the only approach to detect chronic angle-closure glaucoma. Only checking ocular pressure during a glaucoma screening is insufficient to detect chronic angle-closure glaucoma.

Your ophthalmologist will also do the following during a glaucoma evaluation:

  • Measure the pressure in your eyes
  • Examine the drainage angle of your eye (called gonioscopy)
  • Check for damage to your optic nerve
  • Check your peripheral vision (side vision)
  • Take a photo of your optic nerve or use a computer to calculate its size.

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