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Angle-closure glaucoma

Jennifer S Weizer, MD
Section Editor
Jonathan Trobe, MD
Deputy Editor
Howard Libman, MD, FACP


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases traditionally characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP). However, glaucoma is more accurately defined as an optic neuropathy and may not always be associated with increased IOP. Angle-closure glaucoma is characterized by narrowing or closure of the anterior chamber angle.

This topic will discuss types of angle-closure glaucoma, diagnosis, and treatment. A discussion of open-angle glaucoma is presented separately. (See "Open-angle glaucoma: Epidemiology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis".)


Glaucoma is defined as an optic neuropathy involving a characteristic atrophy of the optic nerve head, often accompanied with typical visual field defects [1]. Examination of a glaucomatous optic nerve reveals "cupping," which looks like a "hollowing out" of the optic nerve head (picture 1). Glaucoma is often, though not always, associated with increased intraocular pressure (IOP).

Angle-closure glaucoma is a form of glaucoma characterized by narrowing or closure of the anterior chamber angle [2]. The normal anterior chamber angle provides drainage for the aqueous humor, the fluid that fills the eyeball. When this drainage pathway is narrowed or closed, inadequate drainage of the aqueous humor leads to increased IOP and damage to the optic nerve (figure 1A-B). Normal IOP is 8 to 21 mmHg. In acute episodes of closed-angle glaucoma, pressures are often 30 mmHg or higher [3].

Angle-closure glaucoma is divided into two main groups:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 20, 2017.
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