Childhood Glaucoma

Danielle Fiarito, 16, was diagnosed with glaucoma at age 4
Danielle Fiarito, 16, was diagnosed with glaucoma at age 4 Read more »

Download our free booklet (PDF) -- Childhood Glaucoma: Facts, Answers, Tips, and Resources for Children with Glaucoma and their Families

Childhood glaucoma — also referred to as congenital glaucoma, pediatric, or infantile glaucoma — occurs in babies and young children. It is usually diagnosed within the first year of life.

This is a rare condition that may be inherited, caused by incorrect development of the eye’s drainage system before birth. This leads to increased intraocular pressure, which in turn damages the optic nerve.

Symptoms of childhood glaucoma include enlarged eyes, cloudiness of the cornea, and photosensitivity (sensitivity to light).

How is it Treated?

In an uncomplicated case, surgery can often correct such structural defects. Both medication and surgery are required in some cases.

Medical treatments may involve the use of topical eye drops and oral medications. These treatments help to either increase the exit of fluid from the eye or decrease the production of fluid inside the eye. Each results in lower eye pressure.

There are two main types of surgical treatments: filtering surgery and laser surgery. Filtering surgery (also known as micro surgery) involves the use of small surgical tools to create a drainage canal in the eye. In contrast, laser surgery uses a small but powerful beam of light to make a small opening in the eye tissue.

What to Expect

Thousands of children with glaucoma can live full lives. This is the ultimate goal of glaucoma management. Although lost vision cannot be restored, it is possible to optimize each child’s remaining vision. Equally important is to encourage your child’s independence and participation in his or her own self-care.

Signs of Childhood Glaucoma

  • Unusually large eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Light sensitivity

Last reviewed on February 18, 2014

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