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Pediatric glaucoma: current perspectives

Authors Marchini G, Toscani M, Chemello F

Received 31 December 2013

Accepted for publication 5 March 2014

Published 26 May 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 15—27


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Giorgio Marchini, Marco Toscani, Francesca Chemello

Eye Clinic, Department of Neurological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

Abstract: “Childhood glaucoma” is a heterogeneous group of severe pediatric conditions often associated with significant visual loss and characterized by elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and optic-disk cupping. Successful IOP control is crucial but challenging and most often achieved surgically, with medical therapy playing a supportive role. There are many classifications of childhood glaucoma, but they can simply be divided into primary, in which a developmental abnormality of the anterior chamber angle only exists, and secondary, in which aqueous outflow is reduced due to independent mechanisms that secondarily impair the function of the filtration angle. The worldwide prevalence of childhood blindness ranges from 0.03% in high-income countries to 0.12% in undeveloped countries. The majority of cases do not have an identified genetic mutation and, where the mutation is known, the genes often account for only a small proportion of cases. Several pathogenetic mechanisms are known to contribute to the development of childhood glaucoma. Whatever the cause, it results in a reduced aqueous outflow at the level of the trabecular meshwork. Age of onset and magnitude of the elevated IOP largely determine the clinical manifestation the high variability of clinical manifestations. Glaucoma from any cause in a neonate and infant is characterized by the classic triad of epiphora, photophobia, and blepharospasm, and could be associated with eye enlargement (buphthalmos) and Haab striae. The eye examination, usually performed under general anesthesia, includes: tonometry, anterior-segment examination, gonioscopy, corneal diameter and axial length measurement, dilated fundoscopy with optic-nerve-head evaluation. Medical therapy, considering the high frequency of side effects, is generally used as temporizing IOP-lowering treatment before surgery or as adjuvant treatment postoperatively in case of partially successful procedures for refractory glaucomas. Surgery is the nodal point of the management of refractory childhood glaucoma, so it is crucial to opt for a forward-looking strategy to reach the target IOP and minimize the visual loss.

Keywords: childhood glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, glaucoma surgical therapy, childhood visual loss

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