Pediatric Glaucoma

Pediatric Glaucoma is a severe eye disease that damages the optic nerve, resulting in severe vision loss. It’s most common in adults and older adults, but children and infants can also develop it.

While glaucoma in adults and children is caused by the same disease and results in the same issues, the concerns are much different. Pediatric glaucoma tends to become rapidly aggressive. While children can lose their vision from the disease itself, they can also lose vision permanently before treatment from corneal scarring and amblyopia. Pediatric glaucoma patients also need more surgeries than adults with the disease.

If you’re dealing with someone or know someone who has pediatric glaucoma, read on to learn more about its types and causes, symptoms, detection, and treatment.   

A toddler boy wearing an eye patch under his glasses

Types of Pediatric Glaucoma and Its Causes

Pediatric glaucoma has a variety of classifications and many causes. Primary glaucoma can’t be attributed to any other cause, while secondary glaucoma occurs due to another eye injury, disorder, or disease.

While a large number of glaucoma cases don’t have an identifiable cause, one common way to classify it is by the age of onset:

Birth – congenital glaucoma

1-24 months – infantile glaucoma

3 years and up – juvenile glaucoma

Some cases of pediatric glaucoma are associated with previous eye surgeries or diseases like neurofibromatosis, while other cases are hereditary.   

Symptoms of Pediatric Glaucoma

First lets note that childhood glaucoma is rare, and its symptoms may not be as apparent as in adults.

The disease can affect one or both eyes, and many children who have it are diagnosed before the age of six months.

While each child may experience different symptoms or signs, some of the most common ones include the following:

Light sensitivity

Closure of one or both eyes when exposed to light

Excessive tearing

Cloudy, enlarged cornea (enlarged eye)

Different-sized eyes (one larger than the other)

Vision loss

Pain and discomfort may be present if the pressure in the eye rapidly increases. In young children, such pain and discomfort may present itself as irritability, fussiness, and poor appetite. Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for preventing vision loss.

Detection and Treatment of Pediatric Glaucoma

Regular and thorough eye exams are the most effective way to detect Pediatric Glaucoma.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, then take your child to an eye professional right away.

In addition to an eye examination and complete medical history, diagnostic procedures for pediatric glaucoma generally include the following:

Pupil dilation

Visual acuity test

Visual field test


In some cases, especially those involving our young humans, part of the eye exam may require the child to undergo anesthesia as the doctor examines the fluid drainage system and the eye to determine the appropriate treatment. Whilst this can be a scary concept, know that they are safe and well looked after. It is relatively easy and they will be back with you for cuddles in not time!

In many cases, treatment for pediatric glaucoma involves surgery to lower eye pressure, which is done by the opening of the drainage canals. In some cases, medication will be prescribed instead of surgery, the best treatment option for you will be chosen by your team of eye specialists.

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