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Rare Forms of Glaucoma: What You Need to Know

Glaucoma is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of eye conditions that damages your eye’s optic nerve. In any glaucoma-related condition, the fluid builds up in the front part of the eye which increases the pressure in the eye, ultimately damaging the optic nerve. The two primary types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. These two types of glaucoma make up the majority of cases of glaucoma, but are not the only types of this condition. Rarer forms of glaucoma include childhood glaucoma, pseudoexfoliation syndrome, iris corneal endothelial syndrome and neovascular glaucoma.

What Are Rare Forms of Glaucoma?

Below are the descriptions of some less-common types of glaucoma.

Childhood Glaucoma

Childhood glaucoma refers to the presence of glaucoma in a child, however, it is more than just glaucoma with an early onset. In adults, the diagnosis of glaucoma is based on the health of the optic nerve, but in children, glaucoma is characterized by intraocular pressure-related damage to the whole eye. There are several types of childhood glaucoma. Primary congenital glaucoma accounts for 50%-70% of all childhood glaucoma, occurring in about 1 in 10,000 births. Primary congenital glaucoma is not an isolated condition of the optic nerve, but rather a panocular disorder that affects every part of the eye. Congenital glaucoma may be inherited or as a result of abnormal development during pregnancy. In other cases, another disease altogether may have produced an abnormal drainage system resulting in the development of secondary glaucoma. Other types of childhood glaucoma may be acquired as a result of trauma or uveitis (a kind of eye inflammation).

Pseudoexfoliation Syndrome

Pseudoexfoliation syndrome is a systemic disorder and is the most common cause of secondary glaucoma worldwide. It is characterized by a flaky, dandruff-like material that has dislodged from the outer layer of the lens within the eye. This substance then collects in the angle between the cornea and iris and may block the drainage system of the eye. This blockage can induce a build-up of eye pressure and may lead to a type of glaucoma called pseudoexfoliative glaucoma. Not every individual with pseudoexfoliation syndrome will develop pseudoexfoliation glaucoma. Risk factors include being of Scandinavian descent (though people of other ethnic backgrounds may develop it as well), being female (though both sexes are at risk for the syndrome), being over 50, living at higher altitudes or in northern latitudes, and a high exposure to ultraviolet light.

Irido Corneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)

ICE, another rare form of glaucoma, is typically only found in one eye. This condition can cause cells on the surface of the cornea to spread across the surface of the iris and to cover the eye’s drainage tissue, causing an increase in eye pressure and leading to possible damage the optic nerve. Irido corneal endothelial syndrome is characterized by hazy vision when waking as well as the appearance of halos around lights.

Neovascular Glaucoma

Neovascular glaucoma is caused by the abnormal formation of new blood vessels on the iris and over the eye’s drainage channels as a result of other conditions in the eye, most often diabetes. Neovascular glaucoma never occurs on its own.  

What Are the Medications and Treatments for Rare Forms of Glaucoma?

For childhood glaucoma, treatment varies depending on the age of the child and the severity of the disease. Treatment for pseudoexfoliation syndrome includes anything from specialized medications to laser therapy, and if necessary, filtering surgery. ICE is difficult to treat than other rare forms of glaucoma and is usually treated with medications and/or filtering surgery as laser therapy is not an effective therapy for ICE. Neovascular glaucoma is very difficult to treat, however, drainage implants have recently been shown to have some success. 

How Tucker & Associates Can Help 

If you are concerned you may have a rare form of glaucoma, or are worried about your previously diagnosed rare form of glaucoma, Tucker & Associates can help. Our team of knowledgable eye care professionals can perform a range of tests to determine if you have any type of glaucoma, will determine your overall eye health and can help determine the best course of treatment for your particular eye health needs. Call us today to request an appointment.  

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