Acute Glaucoma

“Acute”  =  “Closed-Angle”  =  “Narrow-Angle” Glaucoma, as opposed to the much more common chronic, open- / wide-angle glaucoma, which is asymptomatic & insidious.  Incidence of acute glaucoma is higher among Asians and Native Alaskans, especially over 50 years-old.

Presents with any of
  • Severe retro-orbital “headache”; OR
  • Painful red eye
  • Acute vomiting
Check the eye for:
  • Red eye
  • Cloudy cornea

Onset is always acute, because blindness ensues within 24-48 hours without surgery.  You won’t miss this as long as you remember to examine the eyes when a patient presents with headache.  Send to E.D. stat.

Another reason this gets missed is the clinician hears “Unilateral H/A” and “vomiting,” thus diagnosing “migraine.”

See postings Acute Headache – 3 and Red Eye – 1.