Open Angle Vs. Narrow Angle Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition that describes a process of optic nerve damage caused by high pressure in the eye. There are three things that generally happen. The pressure in the eye becomes high, the optic nerve becomes damaged and the peripheral vision becomes compromised. There are two general types of glaucoma, open angle and closed angle.

Open Angle Glaucoma

In open angle glaucoma, the drainage canal of the eye called the trabecular meshwork is not anatomically blocked. We explain to our patients that open angle glaucoma is like a clogged drain. The drainage canal becomes clogged and allows less fluid to leave the eye. The eye continues to make fluid in the ciliary body and therefore, the pressure in the eye starts to rise. Over time, a high pressure in the eye causes optic nerve damage. Vision loss in open angle glaucoma starts with the far peripheral vision. The dangerous thing about open angle glaucoma is that it is painless and if you do not get regular eye exams, significant damage can occur without the patient noticing. Open angle glaucoma runs in families and is usually treated with eye drops to lower the pressure. Our board certified eye doctors also use a laser called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) to lower the intraocular pressure. With SLT, a cold laser is used to safely open the drainage canal of the eye and lower the intraocular pressure. For those patients that are not well controlled with eye drops or do not want to use eye drops, SLT is a great way to lower the pressure in the eye. However, at times it is necessary to do more conventional surgery to lower the eye pressure.

Narrow Angle Glaucoma

With narrow angle glaucoma, the drainage canal (angle) of the eye is actually very narrow and therefore reduces fluid outflow. This type of glaucoma is more common in farsighted patients and can be avoided if recognized on regular eye examinations. The danger of a narrow drainage canal is that it can suddenly close off and create a steep and immediate rise in intraocular pressure. There is great risk of vision loss if an angle closure attack occurs. The symptoms of an angle closure attack are red painful eye, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Angle closure is an eye emergency and needs to be treated as soon as possible. Angle closure can be avoided if a narrow drainage canal is diagnosed and treated. The treatment for a narrow angle is laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI). With LPI, a microscopic opening is made in the periphery of the iris. This creates an area of outflow in the event that the drainage canal closes. LPI is a safe and easy way to prevent an angle closure attack. The eye doctors at SightMD in Smithtown New York perform laser peripheral iridotomy right in the office. It takes a few minutes and patients are able to return home right afterward.

If you are patient with glaucoma or are in need of a thorough eye examination, call your cataract surgery, laser vision correction and glaucoma experts at SightMD in Smithtown or Riverhead New York right here in Long Island.

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