Glaucoma encompasses a group of eye diseases that occur when the pressure within the eye, also called intraocular pressure (IOC), damages the optic nerve. This pressure is usually a result of impaired eye drainage processes.
Although glaucoma is most commonly diagnosed in older adults, it can develop in people of any age. Fortunately, glaucoma is rare in children. However, it can become aggressive quickly and lead to vision loss.
The pediatric eye team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists has experience diagnosing and treating all types of pediatric eye diseases, including glaucoma. It’s important to know the signs and treatment options for this potentially sight-robbing disease.
What causes pediatric glaucoma?
Most pediatric glaucoma cases are primary congenital glaucoma, which means the disease is present at birth and not a result of another eye disease. Some children develop glaucoma as a child. This type of glaucoma is called childhood glaucoma.
Childhood glaucoma is caused by either abnormal development or injury to the drainage issues. This drainage impairment causes fluid to build up in the eye, leading to increased pressure, and eventually, damage to the optic nerve.
Sometimes, this impairment is caused by another disease such as Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome or aniridia, trauma, or previous eye surgery. When glaucoma is a result of another illness or injury, it’s called secondary glaucoma.
Pediatric glaucoma signs and symptoms
Symptoms in children may differ from those that appear in adults, and difficult to spot. The most common symptoms of glaucoma include:
- Excessive tearing
- Light sensitivity
- Large eyes
- Cloudy or dull eye
- Excessive blinking
Glaucoma can form in one or both eyes. It's important to note, however, that, in some children, there are no symptoms. Regular eye exams are vital to eye and vision health.
Pediatric glaucoma treatment options
Glaucoma treatment options include medication, surgery, or both. For babies and young children, surgery is often the first treatment to avoid long-term vision issues. The goal of surgery is to repair the drainage issue so fluid drains normally from the eye.
The most common types of glaucoma surgery include trabeculectomy, and goniotomy.. Your eye doctor determines the best surgery option based on your child’s age, symptoms, and the cause of the disease.
Children diagnosed with pediatric glaucoma have a higher risk of developing other eye issues as they get older. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment, combined with careful monitoring, are crucial for long-term eye health.
To learn more about pediatric glaucoma and other eye diseases or to schedule a pediatric eye exam, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, to schedule an appointment.