Glaucoma is a group of related eye diseases which lead to vision loss due to damage to the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. Often in glaucoma the pressure inside the eye is too high, but this is not always the case and the causes of glaucoma are complex and still being researched. In most adult cases, glaucoma can be treated with eye drops to lower eye pressure but will sometimes need further treatment with surgery.
Typically glaucoma is a disease of older adults. However, sometimes glaucoma can happen in children and even babies. This may be a developmental abnormality of the eye, a hereditary condition, the result of other diseases, or the consequence of an eye injury.
When a baby has glaucoma, the situation and need for treatment is very urgent. Since a baby's eye is still very soft, it will grow rapidly like a balloon due to the high eye pressure. This can cause permanent damage and deformity to many eye structures including but not limited to the optic nerve. Unlike adult glaucoma, infantile glaucoma usually requires urgent surgery from the very start. The disease usually starts from a layer of tissue inappropriately blocking the outflow of fluid from then eye resulting in the high eye pressure. The drainage outlets have too be surgically opened to lower the eye pressure to reverse or halt the damage to the eye. When an older child develops glaucoma, which happens rarely, often we can control it with eye drop medicines and surgeries are less likely to be needed.
Symptoms of glaucoma in a baby include extreme light sensitivity, excessive tearing, hazy/cloudy appearing eyes, or abnormally enlarged eyes. If you are concerned about symptoms like these in your child, bring them in to see a pediatric ophthalmologist as soon as you can. If you see similar signs in another child, recommend the same. You might be saving their sight for life!"
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