What is congenital glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs when the intraocular pressure is elevated above the normal level which is between (10-20 mmHg) due to dysfunction in drainage of (aqueous humor) secreted by the ciliary body inside the eye. This dysfunction causes accumulation of aqueous humor inside the eye which leads to high intraocular pressure resulting in damage to the optic nerve and other tissues of the eye.
Congenital glaucoma either presents at birth or appear any time during the first three or four years of child life.
The Relation between the Optic Nerve and High Intraocular Pressure:
Optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain. It is located centrally inside the globe.
Optic nerve contains more than one million nerve cells and constant increase of intraocular pressure may lead to optic nerve damage which in return causes poor visual acuity, deterioration of visual field, and sometimes severe headache on the side of the affected eye.
Unfortunately, optic nerve damage is irreversible and poor vision resulted from high intraocular pressure cannot be improved since the optic nerve cannot be replaced or implanted.
Early intervention to treat glaucoma effectively contributes in maintaining healthy eyes in general and particularly the optic nerve. Because the child's eye tissue is very soft, it becomes elastic under high pressure causing the eye to swell and enlarge gradually.
Causes of Congenital Glaucoma:
There are many causes of abnormal drainage in the eye, among which, the blockage or narrowing of the drain openings, eye infections may obstruct drainage channels and any injury to the eye can damage the tissues of those channels.
® Abnormal corneal enlargement.
® Excessive tearing especially with exposure to flash light.
® Sensitive to light.
® Changed eye color to gray or pale blue.
Once the disease is diagnosed, eye drops are most often temporarily helpful to lower the eye pressure until surgical intervention is performed, which is the main solution for congenital glaucoma treatment.
Early diagnosis and surgical intervention are extremely help for the most successful treatment of glaucoma. During surgery, the poorly functioning drain is opened, allowing fluid to leak out of the eye more easily. The surgery may be performed more than once, laser therapy may be used, or other medications, depending on the eye condition.
· In case of increased size or changed color of the infant cornea, an immediate hospital visit is required.
· Medications are very important. Discontinuing the medication can return the high pressure. You should not stop taking medication unless otherwise prescribed by the doctor.
· Always keep your medication with you, and take them as regularly as prescribed. If multiple eye drops are prescribed, there should be at least five minutes interval between each drop.
· Always remember that the purpose of the medication is to maintain a normal eye pressure, therefore, maintaining vision but not improving it.
· You should ask your doctor about the side effects of the medications, and inform your doctor if any occurs, because side effects have health risks especially to children. Parents may not recognize that the symptoms are caused by the eye drops.
· If the patient has any changes in vision acuity or if any side effects occur, you should see your doctor immediately.
· Every time you visit your doctor, you should bring your medications with you, so that the doctor can make sure that you are taking your medication as accurately and regularly as prescribed.
· When any of your medication is finished before the follow-up appointment, you should call Patient Services department at (4821234 ext.3060) for new prescription.
· Children with glaucoma have refractive errors, failure to treat these refractive errors with glasses and/or patching is the most common cause for permanent visual loss.