Acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG) is a condition in which there is a blockage of fluid drainage from the eye. When fluid cannot drain properly from the eye, the pressure inside the eye may rise to a level that can damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the nerve that brings information from the back of the eye (retina), and damage to this nerve can result in vision loss and blindness. AACG occurs when the edge of the colored part of the eye that controls light entry (iris) covers the drainage canal. The drainage canal is a narrow tube that normally allows aqueous fluid to leave the anterior chamber of the eye. In AACG, the iris changes shape so that the angle between the iris and outer lens of the eye (cornea) is blocked and aqueous fluid cannot pass through.
Those affected by AACG will have a sudden increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure in the eye. Aside from injury, AACG can be a result of the way parts of the eye are shaped, including having a smaller anterior chamber, thin ciliary bodies (controls eye lens contraction and production of aqueous humor), a thin iris, a forward-sitting lens, a narrow angle between the cornea and iris, and a short front-to-back eye length. When the pupil dilates, the iris contracts to increase the amount of light that enters the eye (dilates). This alone can sometimes block fluid drainage. Symptoms of AACG include eye pain, nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision. Females, elderly, and those of Asian descent are at an increased risk for AACG.
Medical attention should be sought urgently if symptoms of AACG are present in order to prevent permanent vision loss. Treatment options include medications or surgery to remove part of the iris and allow for fluid drainage. If you have been diagnosed with AACG, talk to your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are good sources of more information and can connect you with other people living with glaucoma.