Eye Care

What Are the Signs of Angle Closure Glaucoma?

Originally published January 20, 2020

Last updated January 25, 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Patients with angle closure glaucoma may first notice intermittent headaches, eye pain, and halos around lights. Alternatively, they may have an acute angle closure attack, which is accompanied by severe eye pain, headache, blurry vision, and sometimes even nausea and vomiting.  An angle closure attack is a medical emergency and a patient should report to an emergency room or their glaucoma specialist immediately for appropriate treatment.

What is angle closure glaucoma?

Glaucoma comprises a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve within the eye.  While eyes with open angle glaucoma have a drainage angle that appears anatomically normal, eyes with angle-closure glaucoma have a drainage angle that is blocked. This leads to elevated eye pressure, which causes damage to the optic nerve.

The following are signs of intermittent angle closure. If you or a loved one experiences one or more of the following symptoms, please see a glaucoma specialist as soon as possible.

  • Blurry or unfocused field of vision
  • Difficulty adjusting to dark rooms
  • Recurring mild pain around or in eyes
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Seeing colorful rings or halos around lights

The following are signs of an angle closure attack.  If you ever experience the symptoms below, please report to an emergency room or contact your on-call glaucoma specialist immediately for vision-saving treatment.

  • Red painful eye
  • Sudden blurring or loss of vision
  • Severe headache
  • Excessive tearing or watering
  • Sudden nausea or vomiting

Who is at risk for angle closure glaucoma?

The following factors put people at a greater risk of angle closure glaucoma:

  • Family history of angle closure glaucoma
  • Older age
  • Chinese or Inuit ancestry
  • Hyperopia (far sightedness)
  • Female gender

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