Acute Glaucoma

What is acute glaucoma?

Acute glaucoma is very uncommon. In acute glaucoma, the angle of the eye is very narrow and suddenly blocks off sending the pressure in the eye very high.

What are the symptoms of acute glaucoma?

The sudden increase in pressure in the eye causes the eye to be very painful. The eye becomes red. There may be nausea and vomiting. In the early stages you may see misty rainbow coloured rings around white lights. Later the sight deteriorates and may even black out completely.

Is acute glaucoma always severe?

Some people have a series of mild attacks. These usually occur in the evening when the pupil is more dilated, partially blocking off the angle of the eye. The vision may seem misty with coloured rings around white lights. There may be some discomfort in the eye.
If you think you are having mild attacks, you should contact your eye doctor. By examining the structure of the front of the eye, your eye doctor will be able to tell if you are at risk of developing acute glaucoma.

What is the treatment for acute glaucoma?

If you have an acute attack you will need to be given eye drops and oral medication to lower the pressure in the eye and constrict the pupil to open the drainage channels of the eye. Drops to control inflammation will also be given.

When the cornea is clear enough, your eye doctor will use a laser to make a small hole in the periphery of the iris. This allows the fluid that is produced behind the iris, direct access to the drainage holes in front of the iris. This may be able to be done immediately or may require several days of treatment first.

What can be done to prevent an acute glaucoma attack ?

For those people at risk of developing acute angle closure glaucoma a peripheral iridotomy (PI) or a lensectomy may be indicated.

A Peripheral iridotomy involves making a small hole in the iris with a laser. This is performed in the doctor’s surgery and takes only a few minutes. There may be some minor visual disturbances following this procedure and we therefore recommend that you do not drive home afterwards.

A lensectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of the natural lens of the eye and replacing it with a thin plastic lens. The drainage of aqueous fluid is greatly improved by this intervention and should therefore assist in lowering the IOP. This procedure is performed at the Mater day surgery and requires local anaesthesia.
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Suite 15, Mater Medical Centre
76 Willetts Road
Mackay QLD 4740


(07) 4942 3301


(07) 4942 9815


The information provided here is for general education only and should not be construed as individual medical advice. For advice relevant to your particular situation, please speak to Dr Hornsby.