Congenital glaucoma

Glaucoma may occur in babies due to abnormal development of the internal drainage system of the eye. Its signs and symptoms are usually different than adult glaucoma. Classical cases present with enlarged eyes, with a whitish-bluish cloudy appearance as the cornea becomes edematous due to the high IOP. The baby will present intense photophobia (intolerance to light), blepharospasm (i.e. keep eyes shut when exposed to sunlight), and excessive tearing (which may be present in other abnormalities such as nasolacrimal duct obstruction).

Congenital glaucoma is a sight-threatening disease, and a consultation with a glaucoma specialist should be arranged as soon as possible. Examination under anesthesia is required for appropriate assessment of the condition, and treatment is primarily surgical. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important for a good visual prognosis.

Long-term follow-up is necessary, when the IOP and optic nerve will be monitored, but also, glasses and eye-patching might be necessary for the development and maintenance of a good vision.

If your baby/toddler appears to have one or more of the characteristics cited here, please get a consultation with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible!

Lab Buddy

Congenital glaucoma Fig. 1

Fig. 1. A - Unilateral congenital glaucoma - OD [right eye] with enlarged, cloudy, bluish cornea. B – Enlarged cornea (OD>OS) but no cloudy corneas. C – Enlarged cornea (OS>OD) but no cloudy corneas.

Congenital glaucoma Fig. 2

Fig. 2. Eyes with congenital glaucoma: A - cloudy bluish cornea. B – Corneal striae and mild corneal edema. C– Cloudy edematous decompensated cornea.

Congenital glaucoma Fig. 3

Fig. 3. Congenital glaucoma: Blepharospasm - response to bright light.

Congenital glaucoma Fig. 4

Fig. 4. Eye pressure examination under general anesthesia in child with congenital glaucoma.

World Glaucoma Association

Important message for glaucoma patients

It is important for you to get yourself regularly screened for glaucoma. If you have been diagnosed to have glaucoma, effective treatment options are now available and regular treatment and follow up can help you to preserve your vision for your lifetime, avoiding unnecessary fear of going blind.

You can live happily with glaucoma and enjoy an excellent quality of life, particularly if the disease is detected early and treated in time. Always remember that once you have glaucoma, you will have to be under the care of an eye doctor for the rest of your life.

There is a lot of research going on and new treatments may become available for glaucoma in the near future.

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