Purpose of review: Recent studies underscore the importance of angle-closure glaucoma (ACG) as a cause of world blindness. A major contribution in assessing the true impact of this disease has been an article estimating the number of persons with occludable angles, angle closure, and blindness from ACG in China as 28.2 million, 9.1 million, and 1.7 million, respectively. Although these numbers are based on data from Singapore and Mongolia, which may be applied to China only with caution, they emphasize the blinding potential of ACG, which is three times as likely to be associated with blindness as open-angle glaucoma (OAG).
Recent findings: Recent reports in the Chinese literature on ACG prevalence suffer from definitional problems that would appear to lead to systematic overestimates of ACG prevalence and underestimates of OAG prevalence. Nonetheless, data from studies by Chinese investigators further emphasize the strong association between ACG and blindness, with fully 16% of subjects with ACG blind in one report-a far higher proportion than for OAG in China and elsewhere. The importance of topiramate as a cause of secondary angle closure has recently been understood, in part, because of a series of 19 such cases reported by investigators at the Food and Drug Administration.
Summary: Angle closure in this setting appears to be caused by uveal effusion and anterior rotation of the ciliary body with resultant closure of the angle. The condition is not always responsive to laser iridectomy, and elimination of the causative agent appears to be critical. Ultrasonic biomicroscopy is a potential new diagnostic modality for ACG, allowing the measurement of novel parameters, such as the angle opening distance (AOD) at 500 microm (AOD 500). The efficacy of such parameters in improving screening for ACG can only be established by prospective studies of potentially at-risk eyes. A number of novel treatments for AC and angle closure have recently been proposed, including cataract extraction, paracentesis, and argon laser iridoplasty. As with proposed new diagnostic modalities, the efficacy of these treatments remains to be demonstrated with prospective studies, ideally organized in a controlled, randomized fashion.