Narrow Angle Glaucoma | Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment | Eye Love Cares
When narrow angle glaucoma happens, it can be really scary. Anytime something happens to your eye, it is a horrible experience. This is how we see the world, and not being able to see or having some eye pain can definitely lead to some stress that wouldn’t be there if it were fixed.
Thankfully, there is a lot to know about narrow angle glaucoma. If you think you are suffering from this, you are not alone. The good news is that there are some signs you can look out for so that you can get help before it starts. Since it is a very serious issue, you should not take it lightly. Keep in mind that whether your eye issue is narrow angle glaucoma or not, call a doctor immediately just to be sure and get it taken care of as quickly as possible.
How Your Eye is Set Up
Our eyes are amazing things. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to see. To understand narrow angle glaucoma, you have to first understand how the human eye works. Our eyes begin to work when light rays enter into our eyes. This happens through the cornea. You can think of the cornea as a clear window into your eye. You can’t actually see it without some special equipment, but it is definitely there. When you scratch your eye and get hurt, you usually injure just the cornea. The cornea is there to help protect our eyes from anything bad getting into them.
Then, we have the iris. Narrow angle glaucoma affects the iris, so it’s important to know exactly what the iris does. Everyone has different colored eyes, and it’s actually the iris that is colored. Some people have different colors that make up their iris, but the iris does more than just look pretty. You can think of the iris like a camera shutter. The iris has the ability to enlarge and shrink depending on the light around it, and it’s actually a muscle. It’s especially important because it allows us to see in bright and dim light. Without a functioning iris, we couldn’t focus on what we are seeing.
Once light rays pass through your iris, they go through the eye’s lens. The eye’s lens shortens and lengthens depending on what the light rays look like. When they are brighter and dimmer, the lens takes that into account until it is the perfect length to process them.
After it comes through the lens, there is a dense gel that is called the vitreous. This gel substance fills the eye and allows the globe of the eye to stay in its spherical shape. This is a simple part of the eye, but it’s very important!
Another part of your eye is the retina. The retina processes all the light rays and turns them into what we see. It sends it all to the optic nerve, which then processes the images in our brain.
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What Parts of the Eye are Affected?
When you have narrow angle glaucoma, there are a few parts of the eye affected. The most important part of the eye that is affected is your iris. That’s why when you get narrow angle glaucoma, your vision is often affected. It can be extremely hard to see and your peripheral vision is usually the first thing to go.
Another part of the eye that is affected is your drainage angle. Some people naturally have shorter or longer drainage angles. When your eye gets blocked, the drainage angle can’t work. This causes some serious problems!
What is Narrow Angle Glaucoma?
Narrow angle glaucoma is a very serious eye issue. The thing most people don’t realize is that it comes on very suddenly. Your eyes may be fine one day and then the next you are struggling with things like vision loss and headache. This can be scary, and for good reason. This is not something to mess around with.
Narrow angle glaucoma occurs suddenly. It happens when your iris is pushed or pulled forward. Your iris is the colored part of your eye. While it may not seem like a big deal for it to move a bit forward, it is actually a very serious problem. When this happens, it causes a blockage of the drainage angle of the eye. This is where you will find the trabecular meshwork. The trabecular meshwork actually allows for the drainage of fluids from your eye. Without this drainage, your eye can be filled with fluid, which can increase pressure in your eye drastically, which causes a lot of problems.
So when your iris is pushed forward, your eye gets blocked. The structures are essentially blocked from the pressure. Then, your eye’s internal pressure (or what is sometimes called intraocular pressure or IOP) will go up. This can damage your optic nerve. The optic nerve is what transmits images from the eye to the brain. Without this intact, you won’t be able to see properly.
What are the Symptoms of Narrow Angle Glaucoma?
The symptoms of narrow angle glaucoma are nothing to mess around with. They may start with eye pain, but that will get increasingly worse. You can also have very bad headaches. Your vision will be impaired, but it may not be very noticeable.
A lot of people mention that they will see a halo around lights. This means whenever they look at something bright, there is another ring around it. It will look a little bit blurry because of this. But, that’s not the only symptom either. There are also dilated pupils, vision loss, red eyes, nausea, and vomiting.
It’s important to note that not all of these symptoms will occur at one time. You can have just one or two of these symptoms and still be dealing with narrow angle glaucoma.
These symptoms can last for hours at a time. The problem with narrow angle glaucoma is that unless the intraocular pressure in your eye is reduced, you can end up with permanent vision loss because the optic nerve is affected. That’s why it is so important to see a doctor if you suspect that you have narrow angle glaucoma.
The pressure must be reduced within hours, and with every attack you may find that you lose a little more of your peripheral vision.
Causes of Narrow Angle Glaucoma
When your iris is abnormally positioned, there are usually a few causes to keep in mind that could affect it and cause narrow angle glaucoma.
One of these causes is a pupillary block. Eye fluid is produced in the ciliary body. The ciliary body is located just behind your iris, and the eye fluid is known an aqueous humor. Basically, your aqueous humor usually flows through your pupil and goes into the front of the eye. This is normal, and everyone has this happening. However, sometimes it gets built up in the ciliary body. This is not normal, and this can cause an issue. If your iris is stuck to the lens inside of your eye, your pupillary channel then becomes blocked. This causes the fluid to keep backing up, and it pushes your iris forward until it closes the drainage angle completely. This is one cause of narrow angle glaucoma.
Another cause of narrow angle glaucoma is an iris plateau. The iris is usually attached to the ciliary body but not very close to the trabecular meshwork. When you have an iris plateau, your iris is attached too closely to the trabecular meshwork. The trabecular meshwork is where your drainage occurs. In this condition, your pupil dilates and the iris tissue gets stuck up in the drainage angle. It covers up the trabecular meshwork and then your intraocular pressure rises too quickly. This is one of the most common causes of narrow angle glaucoma, and it comes on very quickly. It usually happens when your pupil dilates in dim lighting or even during eye exams when drops are used to artificially dilate your pupil.
Hyperopia is another cause of narrow angle glaucoma. This is essentially a fancy word for people who are farsighted. For some reason, those who are farsighted have shallower anterior chambers and narrow angles, likely because their eyeballs are physically shorter. This ends up increasing the risk of narrow angle glaucoma when you age or when your pupils dilate too quickly.
Another rarer cause of narrow angle glaucoma is a tumor. If you were to have a tumor behind the iris, there is often a lot of swelling that happens. This will change the shape of your eye and can then cause narrow angle glaucoma.
Risk Factors For Narrow Angle Glaucoma
There are a few groups of people who are more susceptible to narrow angle glaucoma than the rest of the population. One risk factor, as discussed above, is farsightedness. If you are farsighted, this is something that is more likely to happen to you than someone who is nearsighted. Another risk factor is your age. As each of us get older, our eyes age. Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of issues that we are unaware of. The lens inside of our eyes gets bigger. We don’t realize this, but this is why many of us get eye issues as we age. This increases the risk for a pupil being blocked. When we age, another problem is that our anterior chamber becomes shallower. This makes our drainage angle narrower as we age. This ends up being a problem because it can end up getting blocked pretty easily.
Your race is also another risk factor. One of the biggest population groups narrow angle glaucoma happens in is Asians. This is true about Inuits and other northern indigenous people. Anyone who has genetically narrower eyes can have further issues. When your eyes are naturally narrower, the anterior chamber angles have a higher chance of getting some narrow angle glaucoma.
Your sex can also be another risk factor. Narrow angle glaucoma occurs three times more in women than it does in men if you are Caucasian. However, among African-Americans, men and women are affected the same amount.
It’s important to remember that these are just risk factors. Even if you have some of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to get narrow angle glaucoma. This is something to keep in mind because not everyone will have narrow angle glaucoma. It is still a relatively rare event, but it is nice to be aware if you are at a high risk than others for it.
Treatment Options for Narrow Angle Glaucoma
If you think that you have narrow angle glaucoma, you need to see a doctor immediately. This is a very serious condition that is not recommended to try and treat at home. The first thing that needs to be done to help narrow angle glaucoma is to reduce the intraocular pressure that is in the eye. This needs to be done as soon as possible to prevent any further damage happening inside the eye.
There are a lot of ways to reduce the pressure in the eye, and just because you are diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma doesn’t mean that you are going to go blind. The first thing that can be used is systemic medications that are taken by the mouth or given through an IV. This is something that you will get from your doctor or do at the hospital. What’s great about the IV treatment is that it works very fast and has great results. However, there are other options out there for treating narrow angle glaucoma.
Another thing that can be done is to take topical eye drops for glaucoma. This is frequently used because it can reduce the overall amount of swelling so you don’t have any more problems there. There are different kinds of eye drops to help narrow angle glaucoma. One type is prostaglandins, but this form is not usually used during angle closure glaucoma. Another form of eye drops is beta blockers. These work by reducing the production of fluid in your eye. There is also alpha-adrenergic agonists. This works by reducing the production of the aqueous humor. Then carbonic anhydrase inhibitors will reduce your production of eye fluid as well. It’s important to know which problem you are having. Sometimes, increasing fluid will be worse. Other times, decreasing fluid will be worse. That’s why it’s important to check with a doctor no matter what.
There are even lasers that can be used to help reduce eye pressure, and this is one of the best options for angle closure glaucoma. Otherwise, there is nonlaser surgery that may be required if no other treatment methods are able to be used.
Tips to Help
There are some things that can help to keep narrow angle glaucoma away for good. Most of these things need to be focused on your eye health. By keeping your eye as healthy as possible, you can lessen your chances of getting narrow angle glaucoma.
One important thing that you need to do is to eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet can help you to maintain your health and keep your eye health from worsening. You need a lot of vitamins and minerals in your diet, but if you are not getting them from everything you are eating, you may need to take a supplement. You need to make sure you are getting high levels of zinc, copper, selenium, and antioxidants.
Another thing is that you should be exercising regularly. It may seem strange, but exercising regularly can help to reduce eye pressure over time, just like it helps manage hypertension. You don’t have to do intense exercise, but just getting your body moving can really help you to remain healthy.
Limiting your caffeine may also help to reduce the pressure that you feel in your eyes. This is something to keep in mind. If you drink a lot of beverages with caffeine in them, it’s best if you can limit them so you are not consuming too much caffeine.
However, you do want to make sure you are getting the proper amount of fluids. Getting the right amount of fluid can help you to feel better and it can help keep the fluids in your eyes from getting so thick. If you drink water regularly, it can actually reduce the pressure that you feel overall.
One easy way to help is to sleep with your head elevated. By sleeping with your head elevated, you can reduce intraocular pressure. This has been shown to really help when you are dealing with a bout of angle closure or narrow angle glaucoma. While it may not be the hardest thing to do, it’s surprising how many people don’t sleep elevated! It can really help you to feel better.
And finally, don’t forget to take your prescribed medicine. If you have eye drops or oral medication, you should take it. This can greatly help to limit the amount of treatment you have to do in the long run.
Usually, narrow angle glaucoma is a pretty serious issue. The last thing you want to do is wait until it is too late to do treatment and have to get surgery on your eyes or have permanent vision damage. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do right at home to help out.
There are some herbal remedies that have been shown to limit the intraocular pressure that you may be feeling. One of these herbal remedies is using bilberry extract. However, there is more research that needs to be done. It could be unsafe to take it without finding first if it will help. The prescribed medications right now are definitely better than this.
One remedy you can do right at home is to reduce the amount of stress you are feeling. Stress can actually trigger an attack of narrow angle glaucoma. This is unfortunate but true. If you do not find healthy ways to deal with your stress, it can cause your glaucoma to get worse.
Lastly, marijuana has been shown to lower eye pressure in as little as three to four hours. However, this is not legal in all states, so it should be taken only if prescribed by a doctor in a legal manner. Keep in mind that it’s much better to take your prescribed medication, because these are known to work!
How to Cope
When you get diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma, it can be very frustrating. There is nothing worse than getting a diagnosis that could potentially require a lifetime of checkups and worse vision. Those who have been diagnosed with glaucoma may feel stressed out and out of sorts.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to cope. One way is to find a support group. There are others who are going through the exact same thing as you are, and you can cope with that with them by getting some help from them. People can share their treatment methods and everything they are going through with their glaucoma diagnosis.
It’s not the end of the world, and there are things you can do to make your life better. You may even make some new friends in the process. You can reach out to your family and friends for support, and if you can’t make an in-person support group, there are plenty of online support groups for you. There’s nothing to stop you from getting the support and love that you need with narrow angle glaucoma.
Making an Appointment
If you suspect that you have narrow angle glaucoma, you should get an appointment as soon as you can. Depending on how severe the episode is, you may need to go to the emergency room. However, after this, you can make a follow-up appointment with you doctor or ophthalmologist to get treatment under wraps.
You’ll want to do a few things as you walk in to the doctor’s appointment. You should first write down everything you remember about your symptoms. How long has it been going on? What vitamins and supplements do you take? How many do you take? Have you had vision changes lately? You should also write down any treatment that you have had for your eyes, even if it is over the counter. This will help to inform the doctor what has been going on and prevent you from getting any medications that could react with one another.
You can expect your doctor to ask you a lot of questions about how long you have been experiencing these problems. There are a lot of different eye issues out there, and you may have something different than narrow angle glaucoma. If you do, your doctor can prescribe the right medications that you need to get better. It’s always smart to talk to a doctor about your symptoms so that you can get on a better regimen.
Keep in Mind
Narrow angle glaucoma is a very serious eye problem. You will experience a lot of pressure in your eye, and you will also have a lot of pressure in your head. As you wait for it to get better, the symptoms usually only get worse. You need to get help from a doctor, and sometimes you may need to go to the emergency room. With each passing moment without treatment, you could end up with vision loss. Since this is the last thing you want, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you start to see symptoms.
Narrow angle glaucoma can be helped if it is caught in time. If you don’t seek treatment, you could lose your vision forever. Just keep in mind that the best way to get help is from a professional eye doctor. They can help you! If caught early enough, all you’ll need to do is use eye drops or have a simple laser surgery done for prevention, which is really the best case scenario.
No one wants to deal with narrow angle glaucoma, but it can happen to anyone. It happens whenever your pupils dilate too quickly and the iris is pushed forward. This means that it can happen in dim light or an eye exam. Keep this in mind when you are going to your eye doctor. If you are an at risk patient, you should talk to your doctor about what you can do to prevent narrow angle glaucoma from happening. Not everyone will get narrow angle glaucoma, but some individuals are at higher risk of developing it. Talking to your doctor can help ensure that you stay in the risk group and away from the diagnosed group!
Remember, there’s nothing that you did that could cause narrow angle glaucoma. This is something that develops because of the anatomy of your eye, so don’t feel guilty. If you are diagnosed with narrow angle glaucoma, it’s something that happened because of how your eye is set up. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t help to prevent it from happening. By staying healthy and changing a few things in your daily routine and diet, you could prevent narrow angle glaucoma from ever happening in the first place.