On my most recent visit to my ophthalmologist, I was told that I have “narrow angles”. I had never heard of such a thing and had no idea what it meant.
What are Narrow Angles?
The angles of the eye are the part that drain fluid from the eye. Anyone who has narrow angles is at much greater risk of developing glaucoma.
I was told that I have very narrow angles. My eye doctor told me about another patient he saw recently who also had narrow angles. She took Sudafed for a cold and ended up in the emergency room with a sudden onset of glaucoma due to her narrow angles. I was told that mine are even more narrow than hers. This comment sparked fear in regards to having glaucoma. I asked my eye doctor if it was alright for me to continue using two medications for sinus problems. He assured me that they were fine, but I should not take Sudafed.
Procedure to Treat Narrow Angles
I will be seeing my eye doctor again in a few weeks to discuss the treatment for narrow angles. The procedure is called “Laser Peripheral Iridodotomy” or LPI. The procedure is done as an outpatient using anesthetic eye drops and is done in order to prevent glaucoma.
Glaucoma presents with high eye pressure, pain, and loss of vision. Since I have only one eye with good vision, it is important to preserve the vision in that eye. The procedure itself takes only a few minutes. A tiny hole is created in the upper portion of the iris (colored portion of the eye) in order to decrease pressure and allow fluid to drain properly.
Risks and Benefits of LPI
The LPI procedure is supposed to prevent me from having glaucoma, however, the risks of this procedure include recurrent closed angle glaucoma and the development of another type of glaucoma. It can also cause glare and double vision due to light entering the eye through the hole created by this procedure.
Because the risks are so great with this procedure, it will take some time and a lot of discussion with my ophthalmologist before I can agree to having the LPI done on my only eye that has good vision. Although the likelihood that I will develop glaucoma is high, the same procedure is used to treat glaucoma once it has occurred.
This information has created a dilemma for me. Do I risk running the chance of developing glaucoma and doing nothing or do I have the procedure done and hope for the best in regard to the risks? Since I am legally blind in one eye, I don’t want to risk the vision in the other eye. Clearly, I need much more discussion with my ophthalmologist before I can make this decision.