Glaucoma is a disease with high pressure in the eye that causes damage to the optic nerve which results in loss of vision. It is relatively rare in children. The subtypes of pediatric glaucoma are classified based on the age of onset of the disease: congenital (at birth), infantile (1 – 24 months) and juvenile (over three years of age).
Symptoms and signs in children are usually different than adults. The most common symptoms of congenital/infantile glaucoma are excessive tearing, light sensitivity and a large, cloudy cornea which can cause the iris (colored part of the eye) to appear dull. Juvenile glaucoma, like adult glaucoma, usually develops without any obvious symptoms. Glaucoma may affect one or both eyes.
In older children, the evaluation is similar to what is done with adults. The examination includes checking vision, the need for glasses, eye pressure and evaluation of the health of the optic nerve. However, most infants are evaluated under anesthesia when glaucoma is suspected. Once a diagnosis has been determined most patients with congenital glaucoma are initially treated with surgery. Multiple procedures are common as well as long-term use of topical (eye drops) and oral medication. In older children the treatment is usually eye drop medication with surgery being a last resort.
Despite timely and aggressive treatment, permanent vision loss can still result from pediatric glaucoma. Early diagnosis and continual treatment are necessary for good results.
For further information please visit Pediatric Glaucoma and Cataract Family Association (PGCFA).
Children’s Eye Care provides this information for general educational purposes only. It should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional. Children’s Eye Care disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.