Childhood glaucoma

Duke is one of only a handful of eye centers in the U.S. with internationally recognized experts who provide comprehensive care to children with glaucoma. Glaucoma control often requires multiple exams, medications and procedures. We help you and your child face the challenges associated with diagnosing and treating childhood glaucoma.

Caring for children with glaucoma

Childhood glaucoma comprises a group of disorders characterized by high eye pressure that – if left untreated – can cause permanent vision loss and disfigurement in infants and children. Primary or congenital glaucoma may present at birth or in the first year of life. Childhood glaucoma may occur as a complication of an underlying eye condition such as uveitis (inflammation), trauma, or removal of a congenital cataract. It can also result from a systemic condition such as neurofibromatosis or Sturge weber syndrome. 

Diagnosing and managing glaucoma in children requires child-appropriate examination techniques, child-specific surgeries and medications, because infants and young children are not simply small adults. Families often bring their children from across the U.S. and other countries to seek care for their child’s glaucoma at Duke. Our goal is for your child to achieve the best vision possible, ideally normal or near-normal vision. 

Choose Duke for management of your child’s glaucoma because we offer:

  • Top-ranked care. U.S News & World Report consistently ranks Duke Eye Center among the nation’s best.
  • Respected leaders. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained, glaucoma specialists and pediatric ophthalmologists travel internationally to lecture and teach courses on treating and managing childhood glaucoma. Our vast experience and knowledge means your child is cared for by some of the nation’s most respected glaucoma specialists.
  • A team approach. Caring for children with glaucoma often requires a long-term team effort involving ophthalmologists, pediatricians, low vision educators, social workers, and other therapists. Glaucoma in children can affect other parts of the eye and cause vision loss from amblyopia, cornea scarring and strabismus. Our team specializes in treating these and other eye conditions in children.
  • Latest treatment advances. We use the most advanced imaging technologies, and latest medical and surgical treatments to control glaucoma in children, and to manage other eye disorders often associated with childhood glaucoma.
  • Compassionate, supportive environment. We offer patient and family support services, including educational materials and programs, a low vision rehabilitation program, and a dedicated social worker to help your child and your entire family cope with the management of your child’s glaucoma.
  • Dedicated surgical suite. Our skilled surgeons work closely with anesthesiologists and surgical nurses who are trained and experienced in caring for children with eye conditions. We are expertly equipped to care for and treat complex and multiple eye problems including retinal and corneal diseases.
  • Powerful imaging devices.  Optical coherence tomography (OCT) offers 3-D views of the eye’s internal structures, including the retina and the optic nerve. Researchers in Duke’s Pediatric Retina and Optic Nerve Imaging Center are pioneering new uses for OCT, including the application of this non-invasive technology to the care of premature infant eye disorders.
  • Promising research. We are studying advances in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood glaucoma using existing therapies. We also collaborate with specialists at Duke, and apply new technologies to the care of children with childhood glaucoma as soon as they are shown to be safe and effective.



Your child’s glaucoma specialist will conduct a thorough examination of your child’s eyes. If your child is cooperative, the tests may be performed in the office. If your child cannot fully cooperate with the needed testing, they may be performed under anesthesia, and immediately followed by appropriate surgical treatment, if necessary.