Parenting Perspective: Childhood Glaucoma

January 9, 2012 3:02:54 PM PST
If your little one cries when there's a bright light or tears up excessively, it might not just be moodiness.

There is something called childhood glaucoma, even though you might only think of glaucoma as something that affects older adults.

It's fairly rare in children, but it does occur and can start when they're as young as 6 months old. The symptoms are tough to diagnose. So it helps if you are on the lookout to help your pediatrician.

Besides the light sensitivity and excessive tearing, if your child closes one or both eyes in the light, has a cloudy cornea, has one eye bigger than the other, or can't see very well, get them checked for childhood glaucoma.

Doctors can diagnose it with a standard eye chart, or can use eye drops to check the pupil.

Older children are often examined with other standard equipment including tonometry which determines eye pressure in the eye.

Generally childhood glaucoma is caused when fluid can't drain properly from the eye and it builds up causing damage to the optic nerve and pressure in the eye. It can be hereditary or associated with other eye disorders or eye injuries.

Usually doctors treat it with medicine or if it's severe, they do surgery to create a new opening for the fluid to leave the eye. The treatment depends on your child's age, health and medical history plus how well they tolerate medicines or procedures.

For more information you can visit and go to the section on eyes. There's a terrific article that gives this and other details.

Here is a link to a typical Snellen chart. Originally developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862, to estimate visual acuity. When printed out at this size, the E on line one will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall and when viewed at a distance of 20 ft (= 609.6 centimeters, or 6.09600 meters), you can estimate your eyesight based on the smallest line you can read.

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