Glaucoma is a condition that typically affects the elderly. Rarely, it can affect children. The condition is characterized by intraocular pressure that occurs when the eye cannot drain the fluid that it produces.
Glaucoma in children can be inherited and can occur due to improper development of the eye’s drainage system, which leads to intraocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma can result in vision loss. About 10 percent of glaucoma cases are inherited. There are also conditions and situations that can contribute to glaucoma or are closely associated with it, such as neurofibromatosis, trauma, and previous eye surgeries.
There are three main types of glaucoma in children:
- If glaucoma is present at birth, it is called congenital glaucoma. This only occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 births.
- Infantine glaucoma is diagnosed between one month and two years of age.
- Juvenile glaucoma is diagnosed after three years of age.
In some cases of glaucoma, there are no symptoms at all. The condition will be spotted during an eye exam. If your child has noticeable symptoms, they can include tearing, enlarged eyes, sensitivity to light, and cloudy corneas. All concerns should be brought to the attention of your child’s eye doctor. Early treatment is very important in order to prevent vision loss.
Medications, like oral prescriptions and eye drops, can increase the amount of fluid that exits from the eye or decrease the overall fluid production. Both of these approaches seek to lower eye pressure. Surgery may also be utilized to correct glaucoma in children. The methods can include filtering surgery, which creates a drainage canal, or laser surgery, which makes a tiny opening in the eye tissue. Glaucoma treatment cannot restore lost vision, but it can help maintain the vision that remains. Many children need glasses even after glaucoma has been treated.