Glaucoma Can Affect Children

When Christian Earl was six weeks old, his mother did not think his eyes looked right, so she took him to Loyola University Medical Center for an evaluation.

She was shocked to learn that Christian had glaucoma and other congenital eye problems that were threatening his vision.

“I thought that only older people could get glaucoma,” said Christian’s mother, Olivia Goree.

Loyola ophthalmologist Dr. Robert J. Barnes stabilized Christian’s vision by implanting tiny devices that drained fluid from his eyes.

Another Loyola ophthalmologist removed cataracts and scar tissue that also were threatening his vision.

Without the surgeries, Christian, now a year and a half, almost certainly would have gone blind. Christian has lost some peripheral vision, and he needs to wear glasses. But his vision has stabilized, and it appears that the rambunctious little boy can see normally, his mother said. “Before the surgeries,” she added, “he was bumping into everything.”

When Christian was an infant, his eyes had a hazy bluish-gray color. A paediatrician initially told her not to worry. But she wasn’t reassured, so she brought Christian to Loyola for an eye exam. Ophthalmologist Cathleen Cronin, MD, diagnosed his condition and coordinated his care.

Barnes and Cronin said it was very fortunate that Christian’s mother trusted her instincts and brought her in for an ophthalmologic evaluation. “The lesson here is that if your child’s eyes do not look right to you, or if there appears to be vision problems, do not hesitate to have your child seen by an ophthalmologist.”

While glaucoma is most common in people older than 65, the disease in rare cases can also affect children. About 1 in 1 million infants are born with the type of glaucoma that affects Christian.

Glaucoma symptoms include loss of peripheral vision, blurry vision, poor night vision, blind spots and, eventually, blindness.
Glaucoma typically is caused by increased pressure in the eye due to a buildup of fluid that flows into and out of the eye. The pressure damages the optic nerve. Treatments include eye drops and other medications and surgery.

In adults with advanced glaucoma, and in children with glaucoma, the surgeon may need to implant a device that drains fluid.

If you’re worried about your child’s sight or want to know more, please contact one of our surgeons by calling the clinic on 020 7000 3193 or 0800 756 9993 or send us an e-mail for a consultation.

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