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Primary Congenital Glaucoma (cont.)

Primary Congenital Glaucoma Causes

Primary congenital glaucoma is caused by the improper development of the drainage channels (trabecular meshwork) in the eye. More fluid (aqueous humor) is continually being produced but cannot be drained because of the improperly functioning drainage channels. Therefore, the amount of fluid increases inside the eye and raises IOP.

Another way to think of high pressure inside the eye is to imagine a water balloon. The more water that is put into the balloon, the higher the pressure inside the balloon. The same situation exists with too much fluid inside the eye. The more fluid, the higher the pressure.

Also, just like a water balloon can burst if too much water is put into it, the optic nerve in the eye can be damaged by too high of a pressure.

Primary congenital glaucoma is different from childhood glaucomas that are associated with other congenital abnormalities or those that develop as a result of other eye disorders, such as inflammation, trauma, and tumors.

Most cases of primary congenital glaucoma occur sporadically. However, the disease may be inherited.

Primary Congenital Glaucoma Symptoms

Patient Comments

Three symptoms characterize primary congenital glaucoma in an infant or a young child:

  • Excessive tearing (called epiphora)
  • Sensitivity to light (called photophobia)
  • Spasms or squeezing of the eyelid (called blepharospasm)

If an infant or a young child shows any of these symptoms, parents or caregivers should seek medical care as soon as possible from an ophthalmologist because they might be signs of glaucoma.

When to Seek Medical Care

Any child suspected of having glaucoma should be seen as soon as possible by an ophthalmologist to prevent vision loss. In some cases, a pediatrician might refer a child with possible glaucoma to an ophthalmologist.

With a complete eye examination, the ophthalmologist can look for signs of glaucoma. Some of the tests can be done in the office, while others must be performed in the operating room (see Exams and Tests).

Tonometry, a method used to measure the pressure inside the eye, can be done in the office. Measuring the pressure is important because increased IOP can be a sign of glaucoma.

Tonometry can often be performed on a child's eye with a handheld instrument called a Perkins tonometer. Sometimes, the pressure measurement taken in the office may be artificially elevated because of the child being uncooperative during the examination.

Changes in the cornea may also be evident during the office visit. Often, especially within the first few years of life, corneal changes can be seen that might indicate glaucoma.

With primary congenital glaucoma, the cornea is usually enlarged and swollen because of the increased IOP, so the eye appears large. The cornea may also appear cloudy or hazy because of the elevated pressure.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/14/2014
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Primary Congenital Glaucoma:

Primary Congenital Glaucoma - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Glaucoma, Primary Congenital »

By definition, primary congenital glaucoma is present at birth; however, its manifestations may not be recognized until infancy or early childhood.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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