Acute glaucoma is because the pressure in the eye has increased in a short time. Then the eye cannot function properly. The eye turns red, you can get vision impairment and it can hurt a lot. You may also feel sick and vomit. It is important that you get treatment quickly if you have acute glaucoma.
This text is about acute glaucoma. Then the pressure in the eye is increased in a short time. Acute glaucoma is a type of narrow-angle glaucoma. There is another type of glaucoma that is much more common many countries. It is called open-angle glaucoma. This will increase the pressure in the eye over a longer period of time. Read more about open-angle glaucoma here.
Symptoms of acute glaucoma
In case of acute glaucoma, you get symptoms quickly. It is common for you to experience more than one or more of the following symptoms of acute glaucoma:
- You get severe pain in one eye, sometimes in both eyes.
- You quickly get worse eyesight.
- You see rainbow colored rings around lamps.
- Your one eye is red and it tears away from it.
- You have a headache.
- You feel sick and may start vomiting.
- You have stomach or chest pain.
When should I seek care?
The doctor examines your eye to see if it is red and if the pupil is dilated. She also directs a lamp that shines brightly on the eye. The doctor does this to see how the pupil reacts. A healthy pupil contractes if strong light is directed at it. In case of acute glaucoma, the pupil does not contract as much.
The doctor also makes a pressure measurement of the eye. It can be done in several ways. You can get eye drops with anesthetic before the examination. It depends on the method used.
It is important that the survey is done as soon as possible. This is because a high pressure in connection with acute glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and quickly cause a permanent visual impairment.
Treatment of acute glaucoma
It is important that you receive treatment of acute glaucoma as soon as possible. It does not have to be an ophthalmologist who makes the diagnosis. Another doctor may make the diagnosis and begin treatment with pressure-reducing eye drops. Then an ophthalmologist takes over and continues the treatment.
Pressure-lowering drugs and laser treatment of acute glaucoma
At the ophthalmologist you can get medicines directly into the blood or in the form of tablets that draw fluid from the eye or that reduce the formation of fluid in the eye. You also get eye drops that lower the pressure in the eye. After a few hours, the pressure of the eye usually returns to a lower level.
Then you get laser treatment of acute glaucoma. The laser treatment should prevent the pressure in the eye from getting high again.
Then the laser treatment goes on
You may sit at a microscope on reception. You do not need to change clothes. The treatment only takes a few minutes. The doctor puts a stunning drop on the eye. The doctor then puts a contact lens on the eye which is then used to do the laser treatment. The doctor makes small holes in the iris so that fluid can pass. You do not need any bandage after treatment of acute glaucoma.
Sometimes you get eye drops against inflammation
When the pressure in the eye goes down, the pain in the eye usually disappears and the vision improves. Sometimes the eye becomes very inflamed in acute glaucoma. Then you may need to take anti-inflammatory eye drops for a few days.
You often stay one night in the hospital
It is common to stay in the hospital for one or two nights. Some may go home from the hospital the same day.
What happens in the body?
In acute glaucoma, the pressure in the eye has suddenly become too high. The pressure in the eye is determined by a transparent liquid called chamber water. Chamber water is formed in the eye and nourishes the lens and cornea of the eye and dissipates slag products through the chamber angle.
The eye constantly produces new chamber water that is drained out through channels at the chamber angle. In case of acute glaucoma, the chamber water cannot drain away as it should at the chamber angle. It increases the pressure in the eye.
Usually, only one eye is affected. You can get the disease in both eyes at the same time, but it is unusual. Then it may be because you have received eye drops to widen the pupils before an eye examination. When the pupils dilate with such drops it becomes extra crowded at the chamber angle.
Some have an increased risk of having acute glaucoma
Most people who suffer from acute glaucoma are older than fifty years. You who have refractive error of the type of myopia have an increased risk of getting the disease. That’s because the eye is smaller and your anterior chamber of the eye is shallower. When the pupil dilates it compresses the chamber angle and then the chamber water becomes difficult to pass.
There are two types of glaucoma
The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. Acute glaucoma is a form of narrow-angle glaucoma that is much more common than open-angle glaucoma many countries.
Both types of glaucoma are serious and can cause your eyesight to deteriorate. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, the injury occurs slowly over several months or years. But in case of acute glaucoma, the eye can be damaged after only a few days, if you do not receive treatment on time.
Significantly elevated pressure can occur in both types of glaucoma. It is important that the pressure in the eye is lowered. In acute glaucoma it is extra important as injuries occur much faster than in open-angle glaucoma.
It is uncommon for acute glaucoma to lead to a permanent visual impairment if you receive treatment quickly.
If your vision gets worse on the eye being treated, you can usually do well with the sight on the other eye. You can get help from a vision center if you have impaired vision on the other eye as well. There you can get help with both technical aids, home adaptation and vision training.