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Glaucoma is the leading cause of bilateral irreversible blindness worldwide, with over 60 million people affected. Time to delve in a little deeper on this topic after several patients have been dealing with severe migraines. Although most patients are incorrectly referred to neurologists, once they see the eye doctor, they discovered that the real culprit was something called narrow angle glaucoma.

Narrow angle glaucoma is a serious type of glaucoma that occurs suddenly. Although glaucoma is often referred to as the sneak thief of sight because most people with the disease do not experience symptoms, narrow angle glaucoma can produce severe symptoms.

This condition occurs suddenly when fluid builds up behind the iris. This build-up of fluid causes a sudden, dangerous increase in intraocular pressure. It is also called acute angle-closure glaucoma or closed-angle glaucoma. This is considered a medical emergency.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation lists these signs and symptoms of the acute angle-closure variety of narrow-angle glaucoma:

Sudden severe eye and head pain

The appearance of rainbow-colored circles around bright lights

Hazy or blurred vision

Sudden loss of vision

Abnormally dilated pupils, red eyes, nausea, and vomiting.

This eye condition is much more prevalent in Asian people PMID: 19826385. When studied in Caucasians, narrow-angle glaucoma occurs three times more frequently in women than in men. It is also commonly mistaken for appendicitis or migraine headaches because of symptoms like sensitivity to light, stomach pain, eye pain and vomiting.If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see an optician if you wish.

It is possible to identify people who may be at risk for developing narrow angle glaucoma. Physicians can perform a peripheral iridotomy (PI) as described above even if you are not experiencing symptoms.

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