Eye Health: What Is Acute Glaucoma?

Eyesight is one of the greatest physical abilities that most people probably take for granted. It’s when it starts to go that you appreciate just how much you rely upon your sight for nearly everything you do. 

No one is immune from developing eye conditions, especially as we age. But most eye conditions are treatable if caught early. This includes acute glaucoma, a condition that can be treated and managed, but can also lead to long-term vision loss if it goes uncared for.

Here’s what you should know about the condition and why you want to find an eye doctor immediately if you suspect your eyesight is suffering:

What is Acute Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which there is damage done to the eye’s optic nerve (the nerve that is responsible for sending messages from the eye to the brain). Most of the time, glaucoma is caused by an increase of pressure in the eye which can lead to a loss of vision and, in extreme cases, even blindness. 

What Causes Glaucoma?

There’s an area within the eye known as the “ciliary body” which produces a fluid that flows from the pupil toward the anterior chamber. Usually, this fluid drains out of the eyeball into the bloodstream through natural drainage channels, but if the channels become blocked, the pressure will build up. This pressure eventually damages the optic nerve located at the back of the eye. 

Types of Glaucoma

Chronic Open-Angle Glaucoma- this type of glaucoma is the most common and happens when the eye’s drainage channels narrow gradually. The main symptom is a gradual loss of vision which affects the peripheral vision first and eventually leads to tunnel vision. 

Secondary Glaucoma- this type of glaucoma forms because of another disease such as a cataract. 

Congenital Glaucoma- this form of glaucoma is rare and is present at birth. 

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma- when the iris blocks the drainage channels, fluid can no longer flow and the pressure builds and builds. The patient might notice several symptoms, some of which might be severe. This acute glaucoma needs to be treated right away before permanent vision loss takes place. 

Symptoms of Acute Glaucoma

Symptoms of acute glaucoma may include some of the following:

-Blurred vision

-Sensitivity to light

-Persistent eye pain

-Seeing rainbow haloes around lights

-Eyes that feel firm and tender to the touch

-Possible vomiting and/or nausea

Risk Factors

Acute glaucoma occurs most often in the elderly, especially among patients who struggle with long-sightedness since they often struggle with narrow drainage angles within their eyes. 

Acute glaucoma is also most common among women, especially those who have the condition in their family history. 

How is Acute Glaucoma Treated?

If you suspect acute glaucoma or discover that you do have the condition, treatment should be sought immediately. Delayed treatment can result in a permanent loss of vision. 

Treatment might include a combination of medication and eye drops to reduce the pressure within the eye. Surgery may also be required to create new channels of drainage within the eye to relieve pressure. 

Learn More About Your Health

As you learn more about acute glaucoma, take some time to discover other helpful health-related articles on our site.

Find specific information as it pertains to women’s health, men’s health, and children’s health, and how you boost both your physical and mental well-being.