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Glaucoma is a condition in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. This occurs as a result of the fluid aqueous humor — which normally flows in and out of the eye — not being able to drain properly. With glaucoma, the fluid collects and causes pressure damage to the optic nerve (a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers that connects the retina with the brain) and, eventually, loss of vision.
Although common in adults, glaucoma is rare in children. If your child’s eye pressure increases rapidly, she may have pain and discomfort. You may also notice that your child becomes irritable, fussy and develops a poor appetite.
Glaucoma can affect one or both eyes, and more than 60 percent of children with glaucoma are diagnosed before they are 6 months old.
Glaucoma can be hereditary or it can be associated with other eye disorders. In approximately one-third of cases, congenital glaucoma is inherited by an autosomal recessive gene, meaning that both males and females are equally affected and that two genes are required to have the condition — one inherited from each parent.
Both medications and surgery have been successfully used to treat childhood glaucoma.
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