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Newborn Glaucoma: Doctor shares tips to detect and defend the silent threat

Understanding the specific type of Glaucoma is essential for tailoring an effective treatment plan, as the underlying causes and associated factors may vary widely.

Written By : Health Desk Edited By : Kristina Das
New Delhi
Published on: April 19, 2024 18:41 IST
Newborn Glaucoma
Image Source : FREEPIK Know what is 'Newborn Glaucoma'.

Glaucoma is a relentless eye disease that damages the optic nerves and poses a significant threat to vision. If it is not treated promptly, it can lead to irreversible blindness. While Glaucoma is commonly associated with adults, it can also manifest in newborns, a condition that requires swift attention and intervention. To prevent Glaucoma from impacting the vision of newborns, it is essential to understand its nuances, prevalence, early signs, and treatment options.

What is ‘Newborn Glaucoma’? 

Glaucoma, characterised by increased pressure within the eye, relentlessly targets the optic nerve, which plays a pivotal role in transmitting visual information to the brain. In the absence of timely detection and intervention, this unyielding assault can result in irreversible vision loss and, ultimately, blindness.

According to Dr Girija Suresh, Senior Consultant-Ophthalmologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund, newborns and young children, albeit less frequently, can also suffer from this ocular adversary. The incidence of Glaucoma in infants is estimated to range from 1 in 5000 to 1 in 10000 children, making it a relatively rare but critical concern in paediatric eye health.

How is Glaucoma classified? 

Newborn Glaucoma can be classified into two main categories: Primary Congenital Glaucoma and Secondary Glaucoma. When Glaucoma occurs independently and is not associated with any other eye diseases or abnormalities, it is termed Primary Congenital Glaucoma. On the other hand, if it arises due to other eye conditions or defects, it is termed Secondary Glaucoma.

What are the early signs and screening protocols for Glaucoma? 

Newborns are routinely screened at birth for various health conditions; eye health is no exception. However, certain factors increase the risk of Newborn Glaucoma, which requires more analysis. Moreover, children who experience birth trauma are born prematurely, and those with specific birth anomalies may be at an elevated risk, which is why comprehensive eye examinations should never be ignored in these cases.

The early signs of Newborn Glaucoma can be subtle and must be brought to the attention of a specialist immediately. Parents and healthcare providers should remain vigilant for indicators such as the increasing size of the eyeballs, expanding corneal diameter, and a hazy cornea in the later stages of the disease. Early detection is the key in the battle against Newborn Glaucoma.

How is Glaucoma treated in babies? 

When a baby has glaucoma in its early stages, treatment usually consists of conservative measures, like the use of specialised eye drops. These medications aim to regulate intraocular pressure and prevent further damage to the optic nerve. However, as the disease progresses, more aggressive interventions may be required.

In advanced cases, surgical procedures might be required. Antiglaucoma surgeries are designed to alleviate intraocular pressure and halt the relentless assault on the optic nerve. Timely and appropriate treatment is essential to prevent irreversible vision loss and provide the child with an opportunity for a bright and light-filled future.

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