Consanguineous marriages, viral infection in the first three months of pregnancy, genetics and maternal nutrition were among the contributory factors for childhood glaucoma, the prevalence of which was high in Andhra Pradesh and other southern States.

While the prevalence of congenital glaucoma was around 1 in every 10,000 live births in the Western countries, it was as high as 1 in every 3,300 live births in the State, according to Anil Mandal, glaucoma specialist at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) here.

He said the condition could be developed at any age but glaucoma in children was a matter of concern and would require urgent surgical intervention. He said surgery would have to be done as early as possible and at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute more than 1,600 children were operated upon, including a three-day old infant, over the past 10 years and the success rate was 95 per cent with most of them regaining sight.

Dr. Mandal said early detection and surgical intervention was the key.

Hazy cornea, enlargement of eye balls, watering and intolerance to light were some of the symptoms.

The disease was so dramatic that anybody in the family would be able to understand that there was some defect in the eye.

80 million by 2020

He said two to three per cent of the adult population was afflicted with glaucoma and it was estimated that around 80 million worldwide would develop the condition by 2020.

Adult glaucoma was asymptomatic and it was believed that at least 50 per cent of those afflicted with the condition were yet to be diagnosed.

The glaucoma specialist said while consanguineous marriage was a socially accepted norm among people of many faiths, such marriages should be avoided or discouraged wherever possible.

Consanguineous marriages, viral infection in the first three months of pregnancy, genetics and maternal nutrition among contributory factors, says expert