Primary Congenital Glaucoma Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 03, 2021
  • Author: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Inci Irak Dersu, MD, MPH  more...
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Medical Care

Primary congenital glaucoma almost always is managed surgically. Medical therapy is used only as a temporizing measure prior to surgery and to maximize pressure control after surgery.


Surgical Care

The primary surgical techniques are designed to eliminate the resistance to aqueous outflow created by the structural abnormalities in the anterior chamber angle. This may be accomplished through an internal approach with goniotomy or through an external approach with trabeculotomy.

Goniotomy is a technique in which abnormal tissue is incised under direct visualization with the aid of a goniolens. This presumably relieves the compressive traction on the anterior uvea on the trabecular meshwork, which eliminates any resistance imposed by incompletely developed inner trabecular meshwork.

Viscotrabeculotomy (canalotomy) uses a high-viscosity viscoelastic to open the canal. [3]

In trabeculotomy, the Schlemm canal is identified by external dissection, and the trabecular meshwork is incised by passing a probe into the canal and, then, rotating it into the anterior chamber. One advantage of this procedure is that it can be performed in eyes with cloudy corneas, which is not the case with goniotomy.

Both goniotomy and trabeculotomy have their advocates; however, reported success rates for both procedures are approximately 80%. The worst prognosis occurs in infants with elevated pressures and cloudy corneas present at birth. The most favorable outcome is seen in infants operated between the second and eighth month of life. Surgery has been found to be less effective in preserving vision, with increasing age.

When multiple goniotomies and/or trabeculotomies have failed, the surgeon usually resorts to a filtering procedure, such as trabeculectomy. This may be accomplished either with or without antimetabolites. Should these procedures fail, shunts may be used. In those situations, in which all else has failed, ciliary body destructive procedures may be useful. [4, 5, 6, 7]