Congenital glaucoma

What is congenital glaucoma?

Congenital glaucoma, or childhood glaucoma, is a rare condition which affects babies and young children, in which the drainage system in the eye does not develop properly, causing increased intraocular pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve, which transmits information between the retina and the brain. It is usually diagnosed within a child’s first year of life. If left untreated, it can cause blindness. 

What causes congenital glaucoma?

While the underlying reason for congenital glaucoma is still not fully understood, it can occur when the drainage system in the eye does not develop properly. Family history of glaucoma is also a risk factor, and more boys than girls experience the condition.

What are the symptoms of congenital glaucoma?

Some of the symptoms of glaucoma in children include:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Clouding in the eyes
  • Watery or teary eyes
  • One or both eyes being larger than normal
  • Redness in the eye

Can congenital glaucoma be prevented?

Congenital glaucoma is hereditary and as such cannot be prevented.

What is the treatment?

The main treatment of congenital glaucoma is surgery. The surgeon may recommend microsurgery, where a drainage canal is created in the eye using small surgical tools, or laser surgery, which uses a strong beam of light to lower eye pressure. However, laser surgery is much less commonly performed than microsurgery.

Drops and medication may also be administered to help lower pressure in the eye if surgery cannot be immediately performed.

Which specialist treats congenital glaucoma?

An ophthalmologist can correctly identify and treat congenital glaucoma. It is important that your child’s eyes are regularly checked to identify vision problems and eye conditions at an early stage. Follow your doctor or healthcare provider’s recommendations for when your child should be given an eye test.

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