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World Glaucoma Week 2017 #5 – March 16

Primary Open & Closed Angle Glaucomas

Info Card: You could have glaucoma and not know it. Make a resolution to find out. Schedule a dilated eye exam. Image of the US indicating 50% of the population knowing they have glaucoma and the other 50% who don't know.
Courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH).

Over the past few days, I’ve shared the Eye-Q Test, risk factors, what it looks like, and statistics on glaucoma. Today I want to focus on the two main types:

  1. Primary open-angle glaucoma
  2. Closed-angle glaucoma

Primary Open-Angle

There are several types of glaucoma and out of the two main types, primary open-angle is the most common. Speaking from personal experience even though my eye pressure was running anywhere from 30 to 40+ mm Hg this type of glaucoma progresses gradually, is totally painless, and there aren’t any other noticeable symptoms.

Like a clogged drain, in primary open-angle glaucoma, the eye doesn’t drain fluid as well as it should. Pressure builds and begins to damage the optic nerve. What I found interesting is there are people whose optic nerves are sensitive to normal eye pressure (12-22 mm Hg). This is why it’s so important to have regular eye exams to find early signs of damage to the optic nerve.

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

Angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma occurs when a person’s iris is very close to and can end up blocking the drainage angle in their eye. An acute attack happens when the drainage angle gets completely blocked causing eye pressure to rapidly rise. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to prevent optic nerve damage and potential blindness. Following are symptoms of acute-angle closure glaucoma*:

  • Sudden, severe pain within your eye and an ache around your eye.
  • Redness of your eye.
  • Blurred or reduced vision, often with circles (halos) seen around lights.
  • The pain may spread around your head and be felt as a severe headache.
  • Some people develop a feeling of sickness (nausea) and are sick (vomit).
  • Your eye usually feels hard and tender.
  • You may feel generally unwell.
  • The clear surface of your eye (your cornea) can look hazy.

30% or 1 out of 3 people with angle-closure glaucoma will have a sudden blockage causing an attack. However, in many people, this type of glaucoma called chronic angle-closure glaucoma develops slowly with no symptoms until there is severe damage or they have an attack.

*Source & Additional Information: Patient