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Childhood Glaucoma: Questions and Answers

Childhood glaucoma occurs in one out of every 10,000 births in the United States. In most cases, childhood glaucoma is diagnosed by the age of six months, with 80% diagnosed in the first year of life.

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Child with glaucoma wearing glasses
Child with glaucoma wearing glasses

Childhood Glaucoma: Questions and Answers

Childhood glaucoma occurs in one out of every 10,000 births in the United States. In most cases, childhood glaucoma is diagnosed by the age of six months, with 80% diagnosed in the first year of life.

Q: What are the types of childhood glaucoma?

Childhood glaucoma resulting from abnormal development of the eye’s aqueous outflow system is often categorized based on the age of onset. Primary Congenital Glaucoma develops from birth to 3 years of age and Juvenile open-angle glaucoma develops after age 3.

Childhood glaucoma may also result from secondary causes such as eye trauma, and inflammation, or may develop following cataract removal, or following treatment with steroids.

 

Q: How do I know if my child has glaucoma?

Children with Primary Congenital Glaucoma are most often diagnosed within the first year of life. Signs to look for include excessive tearing, large eyes, cloudy corneas, hiding from bright light, and squeezing the eyelids. It is often first noticed when an acquaintance is shown photographs and they comment on very large-appearing eyes.

Older children with Juvenile glaucoma are typically asymptomatic like adults but may be able to describe their ocular discomfort related to an underlying condition causing the glaucoma. Symptoms and signs to look for include sensitivity to light, vision loss, problems adjusting to the dark, head or eye pain, and consistently red eyes.

 

Q: What should I do if I think my child may have glaucoma?

The key to successful preservation of your child’s vision is early diagnosis and treatment. Parents should take their child to an ophthalmologist (pediatric ophthalmologist if available) if they notice the above symptoms/signs or if there is any reason to suspect that something might be wrong with their child’s eyes. Timely diagnosis and appropriate care offer the best chances of preventing vision loss.

Treatments for childhood glaucoma include medications and surgery. Regular follow-up is essential. With timely and ongoing care, many children go on to live normal lives with good vision.

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robert feldman md 900
Robert Feldman, MD

Robert Feldman, MD is a Professor at the McGovern Medical School, Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Cizik Eye Clinic, University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, Texas.

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