What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that arises when the eye pressure increases. Untreated it can lead to damage of the optic nerve and loss of vision.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
Glaucoma may not be recognized easily. In some children, there may be no symptom. In most children, symptoms in form of intolerance to light, hazy cornea, constant tearing and loss of vision occurs. In children under 3 years of age, the cornea and eye becomes larger. If the eye pressure increases rapidly, then there is pain and discomfort in the eye increases. However a slow rise in eye pressure does not produce pain.
How common is glaucoma in children?
It is estimated that glaucoma can occur to the range of 1 in 2,500 to 10,000 children across the globe with higher rates seen in Saudi Arabia. It is more common in boys and in 75% of patients, it can affect both eyes.
What is the cause of glaucoma in children?
There are several causes that can lead to glaucoma in children. It may be due to genetic (inherited) cause or secondary due to other problems in the eye.
How does glaucoma occur?
In glaucoma, there is block to the drainage of the fluid in the eye. This leads to build up of fluid and pressure that presses on the optic nerve. Optic nerve is the nerve that is connected to vision. If this pressure remains high too long, the optic nerve can get damaged leading to loss of vision.
How is the diagnosis of glaucoma made?
The ophthalmologist can measure the eye pressure by a method called as tonometry. A special instrument is used to do this. Additionally, the eye doctor will do the vision check, measure the size of cornea, look for haziness of cornea and look for other causes that could have led to glaucoma. Other tests that may be required are ultrasonography to get a view of the back of the eye and an examination under anesthesia to look at the drainage system.
What is the treatment of glaucoma?
Your doctor would prescribe certain drugs (both eye drops as well as oral medicines) to either increase drainage of eye fluid or decrease production of fluid inside the eye. This leads to lowering of eye pressure. There are side effects to these medicines and need to be taken under a doctor?s guidance. In children not controlled on medicine or if they have a defect in the drainage system, then surgery may be needed that creates a drainage canal in the eye. Surgery in form of laser or microsurgery can be done.
Last updated on 1st December 2008