Primary congenital glaucoma is a disease that affects the eyes of a newborn child. To know more about the congenital disorder, read on…
Primary congenital glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that occurs when the drainage channels of the eyes of an infant are not properly developed. As the name suggests, primary congenital glaucoma is present at the time of the birth of a child. Usually, it is detected just after birth or within the first year of birth.
The drainage channels present in our eyes are responsible for draining out a fluid known as aqueous humor, from inside our eyes. If these channels are not well-developed, then they cannot function normally. As a result, the fluid that is being produced in the eyes will not be able to flow out. Due to accumulation of the fluid, a high pressure is built up within the eye which is called intraocular pressure (IOP). In normal eyes, the eye pressure lies between 10-21 millimeters of mercury or mm Hg. When the eye pressure goes above the 21 mm Hg mark, it is considered as high. Due to greater pressure, the optic nerve may get affected so badly that it can lead to impaired vision or sometimes blindness.
Childhood glaucoma often shows various other congenital abnormalities like tumor, inflammation, etc. But congenital glaucoma is different, as it can happen without any reason. Sometimes, this eye disorder is inherited. In most of the cases, it has been observed that primary congenital glaucoma affects both the eyes.
There are mainly three major symptoms that have been observed in infants, which indicate the possibility of congenital glaucoma. They are:
- Epiphora – A lot of tears come out of eyes continuously.
- Photophobia – Excessive sensitivity towards light.
- Blepharospasm – Tendency to squeeze the eyelids very frequently.
In case, any one or more of these above-mentioned symptoms are noticed in an infant, an ophthalmologist should be consulted without any delay. It could be possible that the child suffers from congenital glaucoma.
Ophthalmologists use a method called Tonometry, to measure the eye pressure. It is essential because rise in IOP is, usually, caused due to glaucoma. The doctor also checks the size and color of the cornea. Diameter of the cornea in a newborn should not measure more than 10.5 mm. If the size is more than 12mm, then there is a possibility of glaucoma. In primary congenital glaucoma, the size of the cornea often changes because of the increase in eye pressure. It also, often, looks quite hazy. If the case is severe, then the cornea may look very cloudy.
The treatment of congenital glaucoma should start as early as possible, to prevent loss of vision. To treat primary glaucoma, mostly surgery is needed. The fluid trapped inside the eye should be drained out by the means of surgery; thereby, lowering the eye pressure. There are two common methods of surgery, Goniotomy and Trabeculotomy. In both the types, the drainage channels are probed to provide passage to the fluid and allow it to flow out. The only difference in the two methods is that the latter can be done on both clear and cloudy corneas, but the former can only be performed if the cornea is clear. The success rate of both the methods is nearly eighty percent.
Any kind of self-care is not effective for primary congenital glaucoma, nor can any measure be taken to prevent this disease. Treatment at an early stage is the only way to secure the vision of the child.