Children's Hospital Colorado

Glaucoma in Children

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve in the eye, which causes blind spots or vision loss. The optic nerve sends images from the eye to the brain through electrical impulses. When those nerves are damaged, the images don't reach the brain.

What causes glaucoma?

Damage to the optic nerve is caused by extra pressure in the eye. The pressure is caused by fluid (called fluid aqueous humor) that builds up and cannot drain through the drainage angle.

Who gets glaucoma?

  • Although glaucoma is most common in the elderly population, babies can be born with congenital glaucoma or it can develop during early childhood.
  • About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma.
  • Most babies born with glaucoma are male.
  • 75% of pediatric glaucoma cases affect both eyes, called bilateral glaucoma.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma symptoms can occur in one or both eyes. Symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Bigger than normal eyes
  • Eye cloudiness
  • Eye blinking
  • Excessive tearing
  • Red and irritated eyes

If your child's eye pressure increases quickly, he or she may experience discomfort and you may notice a loss of appetite, fussiness and/or irritability.

How do providers at Children's Hospital Colorado diagnose glaucoma?

Almost all babies with pediatric glaucoma are diagnosed by the time he or she is 1 year old. At Children's Colorado, we diagnose glaucoma after an eye exam that includes:

  • Measuring eye pressure
  • Dilating the pupil to look at the optic nerve
  • Assessing vision
  • Testing the reaction of pupils to light
  • Looking for unsteady eye movement

Once the exam is complete, we develop a treatment plan unique to your child.

Get to know our pediatric experts.

Emily McCourt, MD

Emily McCourt, MD

Ophthalmology

Scott Arnold, OD

Scott Arnold, OD

Optometry

Sophie Liao, MD

Sophie Liao, MD

Ophthalmology

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?

Cristos Ifantides, MD

Cristos Ifantides, MD

Ophthalmology

Patient ratings and reviews are not available Why?