Glaucoma in Children (from birth to age 18) affects 1 in 5,000 children, despite the fact that it affects the elderly more often than not. Glaucoma occurs when the eye is not able to drain the fluid due to abnormal development or injury to the drainage tissues, thus, resulting in an increase in the intraocular pressure, damage to the optic nerve, and eventual loss of vision.
It is referred to as secondary glaucoma when a certain ailment or disease contributes to or is linked to glaucoma. Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome, Aniridia, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, Neurofibromatosis, prolonged steroid usage, trauma, or prior eye surgery, such as the excision of a child’s cataract, are a few examples of disorders that can be linked to paediatric glaucoma. Although not all individuals with these diseases will develop glaucoma, given the higher-than-average frequency of this disease, these patients should undergo routine checkups.
Let’s read further to know the causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of Glaucoma in Children.
Causes of Glaucoma in Children
Glaucoma in Children can be caused by several factors, including:
- Inherited genetic mutations
- An injury to the eye
- Congenital defects of the eye’s drainage system
- Other underlying health conditions, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or Sturge-Weber syndrome.
It is important to seek medical attention if a child is experiencing symptoms of glaucoma, such as blurry vision, eye pain, headache, or halos around lights. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent vision loss.
Symptoms of Glaucoma in Children
The symptoms of Glaucoma in Children can include:
- Pain or pressure in the eye
- Redness of the eye
- Blurred or hazy vision
- Halos around lights
- Increased tear production
- Swelling of the cornea
- Constricted pupils
- White or cloudy appearance of the pupil
- Absence of red reflex (when light is flashed into the eye, the normally red-appearing pupil appears white or cloudy)
It’s important to note that some children with glaucoma may not exhibit any symptoms, especially in the early stages of the condition. It’s essential to have a regular eye test, especially if there is a family history of glaucoma.
Prevention of Glaucoma in Children
There is no sure shot way to prevent glaucoma, but the following steps may help reduce the risk of developing the condition or slowing its progression:
Regular eye tests
Regular comprehensive eye tests, including measuring the pressure inside the eye, can help detect glaucoma early and prevent vision loss.
Control of underlying health conditions
Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and migraines can increase the risk of glaucoma. Controlling these conditions can help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of glaucoma and other health conditions.
Protecting your eyes from injury
Wearing protective eyewear during high-impact sports and activities can help prevent eye injuries that could lead to glaucoma.
If there is a family history of glaucoma, it is important to inform your eye doctor and have regular comprehensive eye exams to monitor for the disease.
Glaucoma in children is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam that includes the following tests:
Visual Acuity Test: This test measures the child’s ability to see clearly at different distances.
Intraocular Pressure Test: This test measures the pressure inside the eye, which is elevated in glaucoma.
Slit-Lamp Exam: The eye doctor will use a special microscope called a slit lamp to examine the front part of the eye.
Dilated Eye Exam: Drops are used to dilate the pupil, allowing the eye doctor to examine the back of the eye, including the optic nerve.
Visual Field Test: This test measures the extent of the child’s peripheral vision.
Corneal Thickness Test: This test measures the thickness of the cornea, which can indicate the presence of glaucoma.
If any of the test results suggest the presence of glaucoma, further testing, such as imaging studies, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type and severity of the condition. Early diagnosis and treatment of Glaucoma in Children are important to prevent vision loss.
Glaucoma in children is a rare eye condition that is treated with medication, surgery, or a combination of both. The goal of treatment is to lower the pressure inside the eye and prevent vision loss.
The specific treatment plan will depend on the type and severity of glaucoma, as well as the child’s age and overall health. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to create a new channel for fluid to flow out of the eye or to remove part of the eye’s drainage system.
The type of surgery will depend on the type of glaucoma and the child’s individual needs. Regular follow-up appointments with an ophthalmologist are crucial to monitor the child’s condition and adjust the treatment plan if necessary.
Glaucoma is a type of eye condition that apart from being frequent in adults also occurs in children and affects the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. As discussed in the above sections this condition is often associated with elevated pressure within the eye that can be caused by factors such as genetics, inflammation, or injury.
Children who have already been diagnosed with Glaucoma are more likely to experience additional eye conditions as they grow up. Therefore, it is essential to monitor eye health regularly in children so that early diagnosis and treatment are possible.
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