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Glaucoma Types: Acute Angle Closure

Angle closure glaucoma can progress slowly, but it can also come on very suddenly. Acute angle closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. It can cause permanent blindness in just a few hours, if you do not get immediate treatment.

What is angle closure?

Angle closure is the closing off of the drainage canals in you eye. In acute angle closure glaucoma, the iris is pushed or pulled up against the trabecular meshwork, blocking off the flow of fluid out of your eye. Pressure builds very fast and quickly causes damage to the optic nerve.


An attack of acute angle closer glaucoma is very uncomfortable. The symptoms can include:

  • Blurry or cloudy vision
  • Halos
  • Decreased vision
  • Severe eye pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to light
  • Excessive blinking
  • Runny eye
  • Crossed or out-turned eyes
  • One eye becoming larger than the other
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


First medication is given, in the form of eye drops, to lower the pressure inside the eye, clear up any cloudiness of the lens, and constrict the pupil.

Laser surgery is used to create an opening in the iris so that the fluid can flow out of the eye.

Risk factors

People of Asian and Eskimo descent are at an elevated risk, due to having narrower angles.

White men are three times more likely to develop angle closure glaucoma than white women.

The risk of developing angle closure glaucoma increases with age.


Regular eye exams can help determine if you are at risk for developing angle closure glaucoma. Very high risk patients sometimes have laser surgery to prevent the onset of this potentially blinding condition.

Seeking help

If you experience any of the symptoms of acute angle closure glaucoma you must seek medical attention immediately. Call your ophthalmologist right away. He or she will instruct you on where to go for help. If it is outside of business hours and you cannot reach you ophthalmologist, have someone drive you to the emergency room or call an ambulance.

The extreme pressure caused by an attack will damage your optic nerve quickly causing permanent vision loss or blindness.

Talk to your ophthalmologist about acute angle closure glaucoma and schedule an eye exam today.

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Disclaimer: The information on this website about acute angle glaucoma is for informational purposes only.
To learn more about acute angle glaucoma, please schedule an appointment with an eye care professional.

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