Pediatric Glaucoma

What's Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that is often identified by damage to the optic nerve that usually takes place when the eye pressure is too high.


  • Childhood Glaucoma
  • Congenital Glaucoma (Present at birth)
  • Infantile Glaucoma (1-24 months)
  • Juvenile Glaucoma (diagnosed after age 3)

Usually the eye pressure is too high because the eye is able to provide the fluid it needs, but is unable properly drain the fluid out.


Three main symptoms a parent might notice:

  • Involuntary protective closing of the eyelids
  • Oversensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing

If the disease has progressed some other symptoms may be evident, these symptoms include:

  • Cloudiness of the cornea
  • Enlargement of one or both eyes
  • Redness of the eyes


A thorough eye exam is needed to properly diagnose Pediatric Glaucoma. The child is put under anesthesia, and the ophthalmologist evaluates the intraocular pressure (for elevation), cornea diameter (for increased size), cornea clarity (for cloudiness and Haab striae which are breaks in the back surface of the cornea), axial length (for elongation of the eye- caused by stretching from increased pressure), refractive error (for myopia- also caused by stretching), and the optic nerve (for abnormal cupping which infers optic nerve damage.)


Most cases have no specific or identifiable cause, therefore, the causes of Pediatric Glaucoma are not clearly understood. When Glaucoma is caused by or associated with a certain condition or disease, it is referred to as Primary Glaucoma.

Some cases are thought to be hereditary.

Examples of conditions associated with Childhood Glaucoma:

  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Trauma
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome
  • Eye surgery

About twice as many boys as girls are born with primary congenital glaucoma. It sometimes can affect just one eye. But in three out of every four cases both eyes are affected.


Pediatric glaucoma is treated by lowering the intraocular pressure by medical or surgical needs.

Most cases are treated with surgery. Trabeculotomy and goniotomy, which open the drainage canals, are the most common surgical procedures.

Keeping control of Glaucoma, usually requires multiple procedures under anesthesia. Eye drops and oral medications are the main treatment for secondary and juvenile Glaucoma. These treatments are also used for therapy after a Glaucoma related surgery or procedure.

Treatment of Glaucoma, sadly, does not end Glaucoma related issues. Some cases cause other vision problems such as..

  • Nearsightedness
  • Decreased vision
  • Crossed or wondering of eyes

Teaching students with glaucoma

Strategies for teaching students with Glaucoma:

  • Educational materials should be presented against a simple background
  • Encourage the use of materials with high contrast and bold writing
  • Have the child wear protective goggles during activities
  • Have the child sit with their back to the windows to avoid glare
  • Have the child sit closer to the front of the classroom

Statistics And Facts

  • Globally, 60.5 million had glaucoma in 2010. Given the aging of the world's population, this number may increase to almost 80 million by 2020
  • More than three million Americans are living with glaucoma, 2.7 million of whom-aged 40 and older-are affected by its most common form, open-angle glaucoma.
  • Glaucoma costs the U.S. economy $2.86 billion every year in direct costs and productivity losses.
  • Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S.

Family And Community Resources


Huong, W. (2014, April 2). Newsletters. Retrieved April 26, 2015, From

CHILDHOOD GLAUCOMA. (2014, February 3). Retrieved April 26, 2015, From

Childhood Glaucoma. (2014, February 18). Retrieved April 26, 2015, from  


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