(See also Overview of Glaucoma Overview of Glaucoma Glaucomas are a group of eye disorders characterized by progressive optic nerve damage in which an important part is a relative increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) that can lead to irreversible... read more in adults.)
The disorder occurs in infants and young children and may be unilateral or, more commonly, bilateral. Intraocular pressure increases above the normal range (10 to 22 mm Hg). Glaucoma can also occur in infants after trauma or intraocular surgery (eg, cataract extraction). Glaucoma associated with another ocular disorder, such as aniridia, Lowe syndrome, or Sturge-Weber syndrome Sturge-Weber Syndrome Sturge-Weber syndrome is a congenital vascular disorder characterized by a facial port-wine nevus, a leptomeningeal angioma, and neurologic complications (eg, seizures, focal neurologic deficits... read more , is called secondary glaucoma.
Aqueous humor production and flow
Fluid is produced in the ciliary body behind the iris (in the posterior chamber), passes into the front of the eye (anterior chamber), and then exits through the drainage canals or the uveoscleral pathway (black arrows).
In primary infantile glaucoma or early childhood glaucoma, the affected eyes become enlarged because the collagen of the sclera and cornea can stretch because of the increased intraocular pressure. This enlargement does not occur in adult glaucoma. The large-diameter (> 12 mm) cornea is thinned and sometimes cloudy. The infant may have tearing and photophobia. If untreated, corneal clouding progresses, the optic nerve is damaged (as evidenced clinically by optic nerve cupping), and blindness can occur.
Diagnosis is suspected when the symptom triad of blepharospasm (excessive blinking), photophobia (light sensitivity), and epiphora (tearing) is seen. The ophthalmologist is often able to measure intraocular pressure in the office or clinic; however, an examination under anesthesia in an operating room is necessary to obtain measurements of corneal thickness, axial length of the eyeball, and refractive error. These measurements further help confirm the diagnosis.
Early surgical intervention (eg, goniotomy, trabeculotomy, trabeculectomy) is the mainstay of treatment.