As a parent, you know how important it is to get your child’s vision screened regularly to ensure they see clearly and have the right glasses prescription if they need it. You may not be concerned about other eye diseases, though, since those affect older people, right? As it turns out, your child could be at risk for diseases like glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, which transmits the images you see from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma damages nerve fibers, which can cause blind spots and vision loss. Glaucoma is often, but not always, caused by a buildup of the pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). When the aqueous humor – a clear liquid that normally flows in and out of the eye – cannot drain properly, pressure builds up in the eye. The resulting increase in IOP can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

Signs of glaucoma include a loss of peripheral or side vision, other vision loss, seeing halos around lights, eye pain, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Signs of glaucoma in babies also include unusually large eyes or excessive tearing.

Do young people get glaucoma?

While glaucoma is a concern of older people, it can affect younger people, too. Early-onset glaucoma is the term used when glaucoma appears in someone younger than 40. Juvenile open-angle glaucoma, which affects people between the ages of 5 and 35 is a rare subset of that, affecting about one in 50,000 people. Glaucoma that appears in infancy is called primary congenital glaucoma, affecting about one in every 10,000 people.

What causes this form of glaucoma?

Ian Kirchner, MD

The most likely cause of early glaucoma is genetics. Somewhere between 10 and 33 percent of people with juvenile open-angle glaucoma have a genetic mutation. The same is true for 20 to 40 percent of patients with primary congenital glaucoma, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Ian Kirchner, MD, said.

Males, especially African-American males, have a higher risk of being diagnosed with glaucoma.

How is glaucoma detected?

Because there are no symptoms of glaucoma until it starts affecting vision, regular eye exams are crucial.

How is glaucoma treated?

Glaucoma cannot be cured, nor can any damage be reversed. Therefore, it is important to detect glaucoma early so further nerve damage can be prevented. Glaucoma treatment includes both medicine and surgery.

Bring your child to CEENTA for a comprehensive eye exam. They will help make sure your child sees clearly and that any issues like glaucoma are detected before it causes them any long-term problems.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Kirchner practices in our Statesville and University offices. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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