January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month: What You Need To Know About Pediatric Glaucoma

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January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month: What You Need To Know About Pediatric Glaucoma

The idea that only older adults can get glaucoma is a myth. While glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60 and the risk for developing glaucoma increases with age, it is also possible to develop it as a child or even to be born with it. This is called pediatric glaucoma, and it is vital that it is diagnosed early, as there are highly beneficial treatments that can be administered if the condition has not progressed too far. Untreated infantile glaucoma is the cause of 18% of childhood blindness and untreated pediatric glaucoma can rapidly become aggressive, making early diagnosis and treatment crucial. Since January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, let's learn more about pediatric glaucoma and answer some common pediatric glaucoma questions.

What You Need To Know About Pediatric Glaucoma

What Is Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions often caused by high pressure within the eye that can damage the optic nerve. The pressure in the eye is typically caused by the eye producing the fluid it needs with no way to properly drain it. This damage can lead to permanent vision loss. Glaucoma is most common in people over the age of 50, but when it occurs in children it is referred to as pediatric glaucoma.

What Types Of Pediatric Glaucoma Are There?

  • Congenital Glaucoma is when glaucoma is present in a child at birth
  • Infantile Glaucoma presents in children between 1 and 24 months
  • Juvenile Glaucoma typically presents and is diagnosed at 3 years or older

What Are The Causes Of Pediatric Glaucoma? 

Often, the cause of the disease is not known, which is called primary glaucoma. When the causes that can lead to the development of glaucoma in children are known, it is called secondary glaucoma. Some of these causes are Axenfeld-Rieger Syndrome, aniridia, neurofibromatosis, trauma, Sturge-Weber Syndrome, previous eye surgeries, or genetics.

How Common Is Pediatric Glaucoma? 

Primary pediatric glaucoma is not very common, occurring in approximately 1 in every 10,000 births. Secondary pediatric glaucoma occurs at a higher rate, with 50% of children who have had aniridia developing glaucoma later in life.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pediatric Glaucoma? 

Juvenile glaucoma presents differently from congenital or infantile glaucoma.
Infantile glaucoma may present as:

  • excessive tearing
  • a cloudy cornea
  • large eyes
  • increased blinking
  • redness in the sclera (the white of the eye)

Juvenile glaucoma, similar to most types of glaucoma in adults, may not have any obvious symptoms. If symptoms do present, they may be:

  • blurry vision
  • headaches
  • poor peripheral vision
  • nearsightedness that gets worse over time

How Is Pediatric Glaucoma Diagnosed? 

Because glaucoma does not always present with symptoms, it is important to schedule children’s eye exams at 6 months old, 3 years old, 5 years old, and then annually until they are 18. Children’s eye exams should also be scheduled if there are any noticeable abnormalities, such as in the list above.

Children’s Eye Exams In SE Calgary

Pediatric eye care is incredibly important for the early diagnosis of pediatric glaucoma and other eye conditions that may permanently damage a child’s vision. Children’s eye exams with a pediatric optometrist should be regularly scheduled to assess the eye health of the child to ensure healthy vision now and in their future. The pediatric optometrists at Specs in the City in SE Calgary use specific diagnostic tools and assessments to determine your child's ocular health and visual abilities. Our experienced optometrists use the latest technology to quickly and accurately diagnose any eye conditions your child may be suffering from, so treatment may commence right away. For those searching for a reputable and welcoming pediatric optometrist in Calgary, contact Specs in the City at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the online contact form to book a comprehensive children’s eye exam.


Q: Is glaucoma curable?
A: Glaucoma is not curable, however early detection and treatment can slow its progression. There are some surgeries and medication which are recommended for children to manage and prevent their glaucoma from getting worse, but these treatments will not reverse the effects glaucoma has already had on vision.

Q: How do baby eye exams work?
A: Baby eye exams look much different from adult eye exams. Your optometrist will use different toys to see how well they focus and track certain objects, but they will also use an ophthalmoscope to see inside their eyes to assess their overall eye health and look for any signs of concern.

Q: Are there challenges to diagnosing pediatric glaucoma?
A: Children may not know or be able to communicate that they are having vision problems, making it difficult for parents to know when to take them to a pediatric optometrist. Children who are diagnosed with pediatric glaucoma will need frequent eye exams, which can be difficult for families, especially for families that need to travel, have multiple children, or have demanding or inflexible jobs. The pediatric optometrists at Specs in the City will help parents become comfortable administering any necessary medications and can address concerns. To help those who cannot take time off of work for eye exams, Specs in the City is open 11am-4pm Monday through Saturday, so you can book an eye exam on the weekend.

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