The prevalence of glaucoma in children is increasing at a rapid pace, according to the Al-Shifa Trust eye hospital. Glaucoma in children is a vision-threatening condition that is highly prevalent in the Pakistani population, which may be due to the high incidence of consanguinity or family marriages in the country. However, timely medication and surgical treatment can help control this disease with a good visual outcome and can save many children from lifelong visual disability or blindness.
Prof. Dr. Sumaira Altaf, Head of the Paediatric department at Al-Shifa Trust, stated that glaucoma in children has become a growing cause of concern worldwide along with this country, as millions are suffering from it. She emphasized that treatment of glaucoma in children requires specialized medical and surgical care, frequent follow-ups, and that parents of children suffering from childhood Glaucoma have to face psychological and financial stress.
The Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital provides free of cost medical and surgical treatment to 80% of patients, who are treated by experienced and skilled Pediatric Ophthalmologists. On average, 22 to 25 pediatric eye surgeries are performed daily, including various types of surgeries for glaucoma. The successful treatment of these patients has resulted in a high number of referrals to the trust’s hospital from all over the country.
A large number of cases of pediatric glaucoma have secondary causes, either due to trauma, previous eye surgery, associated eye anomalies, or injudicious use of steroids. Dr. Sumaira highlighted that the vision of many unfortunate children has been compromised because of the careless use of over-the-counter steroid eye drops. Moreover, harmful medicines are frequently prescribed by salesmen at pharmacies, relatives, quacks, and sometimes by general practitioners, who are ignorant that these medicines lead to complications and irreversible blindness.
Pharmaceutical companies should also mention the side effects of these medicines on their packaging, as knowledge regarding pediatric glaucoma is scarce, she said. Dr. Sumaira advised that examination at birth by an ophthalmologist is recommended for every child to rule out any eye abnormalities. She also recommended that an annual eye examination by an ophthalmologist is recommended to detect early signs of glaucoma or other ocular problems and intervene before it is too late.
The Al-Shifa Department of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Rawalpindi has fully equipped OPD clinics, clinics for pediatric vision and refraction, as well as all the diagnostic tests required for children. The competent team of Ophthalmologists caters to an OPD of 250 to 300 children daily while 22 to 25 pediatric eye surgeries are performed daily under general anesthesia. Dr. Sumaira stated that the Al-Shifa Department of Paediatric Ophthalmology is playing a key role in the fight against childhood blindness.
Glaucoma is a serious condition that affects the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain. In glaucoma, the pressure inside the eye increases, which can cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to vision loss or blindness if left untreated. While glaucoma is commonly associated with older adults, it can also affect children, and its prevalence in this population is increasing at a rapid pace in this country
There are several types of glaucoma in children, including primary congenital glaucoma, which is present at birth or diagnosed in the first few years of life, and secondary glaucoma, which is caused by other eye conditions or factors such as trauma or previous eye surgery. The high prevalence of consanguinity or family marriages in Pakistan is believed to be a contributing factor to the increased incidence of glaucoma in children.
The symptoms of glaucoma in children can be difficult to detect, as young children may not be able to express their vision problems. However, some signs that may indicate the presence of glaucoma include excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, a cloudy or enlarged eye, and frequent blinking or rubbing of the eyes. It is important for parents to have their children’s eyes examined regularly by a pediatric ophthalmologist to detect any vision problems early and prevent irreversible damage.
Glaucoma in children is a serious condition that requires proper intervention. The Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital is providing free medical and surgical treatment to 80% of patients, which is an important service for parents of children suffering from childhood glaucoma. However, parents and healthcare providers need to be aware of the potential side effects of steroids and other harmful medicines that may lead to complications and irreversible blindness. Examination at birth by an ophthalmologist and annual eye examinations are recommended to detect early signs of glaucoma or other ocular problems and intervene before it is too late. The Al-Shifa Department of Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Rawalpindi is playing a key role in the fight against childhood blindness and deserves recognition for their efforts.