What is congenital glaucoma? - LANSIER

What is congenital glaucoma?

Glaucoma encompasses a group of pathologies that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting the images that reach the retina so that the brain can interpret them. As the disease progresses, this nerve loses its fibers and, as a result, the patient's visual field decreases, which can even lead to blindness if the patient is not treated.

Although the risk of glaucoma increases with age, there are forms that are exclusive to childhood. This is the case of congenital glaucoma, which, although rare (affecting 1 in 30,000 live newborns), can cause severe and irreversible visual loss in the child who suffers from it.

Congenital glaucoma is detected through a complete eye examination, which in the case of infants and children under 3 years of age is usually done in the operating room after the child has been sedated in order to perform it. The examination includes:

  • Exploration of the anterior part of the eye: in order to assess the state of the cornea and the angle and decide, depending on these two structures, the most appropriate type of surgery for each case of congenital glaucoma.
  • Fundus examination: After dilating the pupils with eye drops, the ophthalmologist looks through special magnifying lenses to examine the retina and the optic nerve for signs of damage. In glaucoma, the optic nerve loses nerve fibers, leaving a hole (excavation) that increases as the disease progresses.
  • Tonometry: It is performed to measure eye pressure. For this test, the ophthalmologist will put some drops to numb your eyes and will place an instrument over your eye that takes the pressure. Normal eye pressure values are between 10 and 20 mm of mercury.

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