Glaucoma represents a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease and one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.

Angle-closure glaucoma is a condition in which the iris in the eye shifts and blocks the exit passageway of the aqueous humor, the fluid that fills the eye. This fluid blockage causes a rapid build-up of pressure in the eye.

Angle-closure glaucoma is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical treatment to preserve vision.


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The exact cause of open-angle glaucoma is unknown. However, factors that play a role in causing the disease include:

  • Narrowing of the drainage angle in the eye—Aging and being farsighted are two causes of this narrowing.
  • Being born with narrow angles
  • Injury to the eye

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing angle-closure glaucoma:

  • Family history of narrow angle glaucoma
  • Glaucoma in one eye—This increases the risk of developing glaucoma in the other eye.
  • Ethnic background—Asians are at greater risk of angle-closure glaucoma.
  • Injury to the eye
  • Eye drops used to dilate the eyes
  • Certain systemic medications


Patients with narrow angles experience few or no symptoms until the disease has progressed to an acute angle-closure attack. Symptoms of this may include:

  • Severe pain in the eye
  • Facial pain
  • Pupil not reacting to light
  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Redness and swelling of the eye


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include the following:

  • Eye exam
  • Tonometry —to determine intraocular pressure
  • Slit lamp examination—the use of a low-power microscope combined with a high-intensity light source, allows a narrow beam that can be focused to examine the front of the eye
  • Gonioscopy—the use of a special mirror to view the drainage angle of the eye


Angle-closure glaucoma requires emergency medical treatment to preserve vision. See an ophthalmologist immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of an angle-closure glaucoma attack. Treatment options include:

  • Medications—Eye drops, pills, and sometimes even intravenous drugs are often administered to reduce intraocular pressure.
  • Surgery—Surgery (usually done by laser) may be used to stop or prevent an attack of angle-closure glaucoma.


Angle-closure glaucoma cannot be prevented, but prompt medical treatment can reduce the risk of vision loss. Patients at high risk of having an angle-closure glaucoma attack may undergo preventive surgery to open a new channel in the iris. Since you can’t tell if you have narrow angles, it is important to have a comprehensive eye examination regularly.