Childhood Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that, if untreated, can lead to blindness in individuals of any age. However, when diagnosed early, treatment can slow its progression and even stop vision loss.

Here at Dr. Cooper, Pediatric Ophthalmology and Family Eye Care, we offer glaucoma diagnosis and treatment for both children and adults.

Can Children Develop Glaucoma?

Yes, a child can develop glaucoma, also known as congenital or pediatric glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation explains that congenital glaucoma is rare and typically develops within the first year of life. The cause for glaucoma in children is that, prior to birth, the drainage system for circulating fluid inside the eye develops abnormally.  

Pediatric glaucoma is diagnosed in older children by measuring the pressure inside the eye, following the refractive error, and carefully examining the optic nerves with photographs, OCT (optical coherence tomography) and visual fields (measurement of the peripheral vision).  While the disease is lifelong, prompt diagnosis and treatment can reduce symptoms and preserve useful vision.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of Congenital Glaucoma?

An infant or child with glaucoma may have photophobia (sensitivity to light).  They may also have enlarged eyes or excessive tearing. In some instances, the cornea may also be cloudy. If you think your child may have glaucoma, or there is a family history of glaucoma in childhood or as a young adult, immediately begin with an evaluation from a pediatric ophthalmologist.   

How Does an Ophthalmologist Treat Glaucoma in Children?

Treating pediatric glaucoma often involves a combination of surgery and medication.  Some patients may respond to topical treatments including eye drops. Surgical treatment includes gonioscopy, micro-surgery or other filtering surgery, and possibly laser surgery. While treatment cannot reverse vision loss due to glaucoma, it can be beneficial for maintaining the patient’s remaining vision. 

Dr. Kim Cooper is fellowship trained and board certified to evaluate infants and children for glaucoma.  Dr Rupali Apte is board certified to diagnosis and treat adults at risk for glaucoma.

Contact our office at 650-259-0300 for an appointment.