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Glaucoma In Childhood

Glaucoma In Childhood

Glaucoma In Childhood
Glaucoma In Childhood 

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye vision diseases that have common features, including elevated eye pressure, damage to the optic nerve, and eye vision loss. There are many types of glaucoma. Childhood glaucoma refers to the presence of glaucoma in children. Congenital glaucoma is the common term used for glaucoma diagnosed in infancy or early childhood and is also called pediatric or infantile glaucoma.
Childhood glaucoma is associated with physical changes in the eye vision which are caused by the high pressure. The increased fluid pressure can push on the optic nerve of eyes and cause cupping (an abnormal enlargement in the optic disc area). If the pressure remains too high for too long, the optic nerve fibers are damaged. Enlargement of the eye vision, cloudiness of the cornea and injury to the optic nerve are examples of changes that can occur as a result of glaucoma.

Glaucoma In Childhood: Facts and Figures

  • Childhood glaucoma occurs in one out of every 10,000 births of a child in the United States. In other parts of the world, even higher rates have been reported. For example in Saudi Arabia, the incidence of childhood glaucoma has been noted to be as high as one out of 2500 births. According to the Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study (APEDS), it occurs as one in 3300 live births of the child.
  • Isolated or primary congenital glaucoma accounts for approximately 50 to 70% of all cases of congenital glaucoma. Most cases of pediatric glaucoma are diagnosed by the age of six months or earlier, with 80% diagnosed by the first year of life.
  • In diagnosed cases of glaucoma, about 2/3rd of the patients are their male. In about 3/4th of all cases, glaucoma affects both eyes, which is termed bilateral.
  • It has been estimated that approximately 300,000 and more children are afflicted with developmental glaucoma worldwide and there are 2/3rd are already blind (WHO bulletin, 1994)
Pediatric glaucoma in a child is treated differently than adult glaucoma. Most patients require surgery for this and this is typically performed early. The aim of pediatric glaucoma surgery is to reduce IOP or intraocular pressure. Most babies who receive prompt surgical treatment, long-term care, and monitoring of their visual development will do well and may have a normal or nearly normal vision for their lifetime. Sadly, when childhood glaucoma is not recognized and treated promptly, the more permanent visual loss will result.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma in children?

Most people who have glaucoma do not notice any symptoms until they start to lose some of their eyesight. As optic nerve fibers are damaged by glaucoma, small blind spots may begin to develop. They usually happen on the side or in their peripheral vision. Many people do not notice the blind spots until significant optic nerve damage has already happened. If the entire nerve is destroyed, the person becomes blind.

One type of glaucoma, called acute angle-closure glaucoma, does produce noticeable symptoms. This is because there is a quick buildup of pressure in the eye. These are the most common symptoms of this type of glaucoma. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • The blurred or narrowed field of eye vision
  • Severe pain in the eyes
  • Haloes or “rainbows” around lights
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A headache
The symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma may look like other eye problems. Get medical attention right away if you notice symptoms in order to prevent blindness.


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