Glaucoma Can Affect Babies, Too
In U.S., one in 10,000 infants is born with the vision-robbing disease
But to parents, Frempong noted, an infant's enlarged, cloudy corneas can simply look like "big, beautiful blue eyes."
There are other glaucoma red flags, though -- which actually appear before the cornea enlarges, Medow said.
Frempong described them as the classic "triad" of symptoms: eyelid spasms, sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. But again, it can be easy for parents, or even their pediatrician, to attribute those symptoms to something else -- like "colic," Frempong said.
She said the bottom line for parents is that, if they think something is wrong with their baby's eyes, and their pediatrician has "any doubt" about the cause, see a pediatric ophthalmologist.
"The earlier we find it, the better it is for the child," Medow said.
With infant glaucoma, the treatment is almost always prompt surgery. There are different types, and repeat procedures are often necessary, Medow said.
Christian received a type of surgery where tiny silicone tubing is implanted in the eyes. The device is regulated by a valve and allows fluid to drain from the eye.
"I was scared," Goree said. "I thought, 'You want to do surgery on my baby?' "
But she says Christian, now 18 months old, is doing well -- though he does need glasses to correct the vision loss he sustained. "He's running around, and has lots of energy," Goree said.
Christian's medical care is not over. The implanted devices will need to be replaced at some point, Barnes said. And all children treated for congenital glaucoma need regular doctor visits for the long haul -- to check that the pressure in their eyes remains normal and their vision is stable.
But Goree is thankful her son's condition was caught early enough to preserve much of his vision. "If you think something is wrong with your baby, trust your instincts and go to the doctor," she advised.
Barnes agreed. "When it comes to the health of their children, moms are usually right."