Childhood Glaucoma

Definition

Childhood glaucoma also referred to as buphthalmos, congenital glaucoma, pediatric, or infantile glaucoma, is usually diagnosed within the first year of life and less commonly in young children.   Due to abnormal development p of the eye’s drainage system, there is increased intraocular pressure, which in turn damages the optic nerve. Symptoms of childhood glaucoma include:

  • Unusually large eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Light sensitivity  (photophobia)

Medical treatments include the use of topical eye drops and oral medications. These treatments either lower eye pressure by increasing the fluid drainage from the eye or increasing the production of fluid in the eye. There are two main types of surgical procedures which help control eye pressure. Filtering surgery involves creating a drainage canal in the eye or laser surgery, with disrupts aqueous fluid production.

 

Functional Characteristics

Visual prognosis depends upon control of intra-ocular pressure. Early and regular eye care is important to monitor pressure levels. At best, there is some loss of peripheral vision and poor night vision. Children can have difficulty seeing large objects at close range. They may have a constant redness, a hazy cornea, or decreased sensitivity to contrast. Children with congenital glaucoma are usually myopic or nearsighted. Amblyopia is a major concern in unilateral glaucoma.

Common vision problems in glaucoma include photophobia (light sensitivity), corneal clouding, and visual field loss. Providing controlled environments and adaptations, where possible, can be helpful in maximizing vision.

Examples include:

  • Reduce or avoid glare; for example placing the child with his/her back to windows or bright lights
  • Use sunglasses (polarized) or eyeshades and hats during outdoor play even on overcast days
  • Use high contrast materials to make it easier to do tasks
  • Reducing stress factors and outside distractions may improve the child’s level of functioning
  • Seek the services of a Teacher of the Visually Impaired for adaptations and evaluation or vision related technology that can enhance learning
  • Have the child reassessed frequently as intraocular pressure needs to be checked at regular intervals.

Children with glaucoma can live full lives. Although lost vision cannot be restored, it is possible to optimize each child’s remaining vision. Equally important is to encourage your child’s independence and participation in her/her self care.

 

Associated Conditions

There are many types of glaucoma. Childhood glaucoma is often genetically determined, even though in most cases, the problem will not be present in either parent. When the type of glaucoma has been identified, your child’s doctor will be able to discuss genetic factors involved in specific conditions.

 

Resources

The Glaucoma Research Foundation

490 Post Street, Suite 830

San Francisco, California  94102

800.826.6693 or www.glaucoma.org

 

American Foundation for the Blind

11 Penn Plaza

New York, NY 1001

800.AFB-LINE or www.afb.org

 

Family Connect

A website for parents of children with visual impairments developed by American Foundation for the Blind and National Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

www.familyconnect.org

 

Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments

1750 S. Big Bend Blvd.

Richmond Heights, MO  63117

(314)776-1300

www.dgckids.org

 

Acknowledgements

 

Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments acknowledges the following sources of information for this summary:

Childhood Glaucoma:  A Reference for Guide for Families (Glaucoma Research Fndt.)

 Eye Conditions & Syndromes & Other Conditions.  Project VIISA; SKI-HI Institute

 Professional Edit, Steven D. Goodrich, M.D. Pediatric Ophthalmologist

 

 


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