This month, there are a few particular days that represent eye conditions or syndromes. On 12 March, it is World Glaucoma day and so I was going to provide information about Congenital Glaucoma that children can be born with and therefore encounter different vision challenges from very early on. The strong focus coming from the researchers is to encourage parents and extended family members to know what to look for in their child and then proceed with an eye specialist (Ophthalmologist) for further assessing.
I have taken the following information straight from the website to ensure the medical terminology is explained well and understood just in case, you or someone you know comes across a child who just doesn’t seem to be presenting well with their vision.
“Most childhood glaucoma is primary, either congenital (present from birth) or infantile (developing between 1-24 months of age). Most children with glaucoma are diagnosed within the first three years of life. Some cases of primary glaucoma may have a genetic component, but most are sporadic, occurring in families with no history of congenital glaucoma.
Why is early treatment for childhood glaucoma so important?
Prognosis without treatment is poor. In children under the age of 3 or 4 years, in addition to progressive loss of vision due to damage to the optic nerve, the eye with elevated pressure expands, becoming very large. That doesn’t happen in adults. This enlargement can lead to changes in refractive error (poor focusing of the visual image on the retina, or film that lines the back of the eye), changes in the shape and clarity of the cornea (the transparent covering of the front of the eye that assists with focusing of the visual image), and to other secondary causes of poor vision. Disturbance of the visual image sent from the eye to the brain in a young child will result in amblyopia (“lazy eye”), a condition in which the eye fails to develop normal vision. This can be permanent if not aggressively treated. That’s why it’s so important for parents to be aware of the signs of childhood glaucoma.
What are the signs and symptoms of childhood glaucoma?
Glaucoma can occur in one or both eyes. While most adults with glaucoma have no symptoms, babies and young children with glaucoma may display the following signs:
If you have something to share about a child you know with glaucoma or associated conditions (such as Sturge Weber syndrome), please share in this learning space. We welcome your insight.
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Kerri Weaver is a service provider for children with disabilities.