When we think of glaucoma, we think of elderly adults. Though less common, babies and children also get glaucoma. In these children, the normal fluid pressure inside their eyes (intraocular pressure or IOP) does not drain properly. Normally, fluid flows in and out of the eye. When it builds up to high levels, however, it creates too much pressure inside the eye. This condition damages the optic nerve, the structure that delivers visual information from the eyes to the brain. Left untreated, glaucoma leads to blindness.
Because pediatric glaucoma is uncommon and harder to detect, it’s important to seek specialized care. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development or eye health, the experts at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, are here to help.
What Causes Glaucoma in Children?
As a parent, you naturally wonder what caused your child’s glaucoma. While glaucoma does run in families, primary pediatric glaucoma usually has no identifiable cause. Secondary pediatric glaucoma occurs more often in children who have any of the following conditions:
- Axenfeld-Reiger Syndrome
- Sturge-Weber Syndrome
- Chronic steroid use
- Trauma or previous eye surgery such as childhood cataract removal
How Do I Know If My child has Glaucoma?
Just as children are not little adults, childhood glaucoma symptoms differ from those of adult glaucoma. The signs and symptoms of pediatric glaucoma include:
- Enlarged eyes – one or both (often subtle and mistaken for normal)
- Excessive tearing
- Cloudy corneas and a dull iris
- Sensitivity to light in one or both eyes
- Myopia (nearsightedness) in one or both eyes
Pediatric glaucoma is not always detected during childhood – the signs are not always obvious, the disorder mimics other conditions and children cannot always explain their symptoms. For this reason, your pediatrician should examine your baby’s eyes during the first year of life. If vision appears to be developing normally, your child needs a comprehensive eye exam by their fourth birthday, and every two years after that. If you or your pediatrician suspect an eye problem or if your child has pediatric glaucoma symptoms, schedule an appointment with a Bascom Palmer ophthalmologist right away.
Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?
Specialized, Child-centered Care. At Bascom Palmer, we believe each child is unique, with vision care needs very different from those of adults. That’s why we created The Samuel & Ethel Balkan International Pediatric Glaucoma Center. The center is the first of its kind offering a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating pediatric glaucoma.
University-based Vision Care. Powered by the University of Miami Health System, our physicians have the resources to pioneer promising treatments. Choosing Bascom Palmer for your child’s eye care gives your child access to clinical research trials and innovative technologies. We believe that every child deserves a promising future and that preserving eyesight is the first step toward that future.
Family-friendly Eye Care. It takes a special person to work with infants and children, but the rewards are great. Each member of our pediatric eye care team understands that working with children demands creativity, patience and passion. From child-specific eye exams to specialized pediatric treatment plans to taking the time to comfort a concerned parent, they are here to support you and your child.