Information for Patients
A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect.
A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or neural tube defects are structural problems that can be easy to see. To find others, like heart defects, doctors use special tests. Birth defects can range from mild to severe. Causes can include
- Exposures to medicines or chemicals. For example, alcohol abuse can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Infections during pregnancy
- Certain medicines. Before you get pregnant, talk to your health care provider about any medicines you take.
- Not getting enough of certain nutrients. For example, not getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy is a key factor in causing neural tube defects.
For most birth defects, the cause is unknown.
Health care providers can diagnose certain birth defects during pregnancy, with prenatal tests. That's why it important to get regular prenatal care. Other birth defects may not be found until after the baby is born. Sometimes the defect is obvious right away. Other times, the health care provider may not discover it until later in life.
Babies with birth defects often need special care and treatments. The treatments may include surgery, medicines, assistive devices, and therapies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. It usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are no symptoms at first. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral, or side vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.
A comprehensive eye exam can tell if you have glaucoma. People at risk should get eye exams at least every two years. They include
- African Americans over age 40
- People over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- People with a family history of glaucoma
There is no cure, but glaucoma can usually be controlled. Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eyedrops and/or surgery.
NIH: National Eye Institute
Early-onset glaucoma Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders in which the optic nerves connecting the eyes and the brain are progressively damaged. This damage can lead to reduction in side (peripheral) vision and eventual blindness. Other signs and symptoms may include bulging eyes, excessive tearing, and abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia). The term "early-onset glaucoma" may be used when the disorder appears before the age of 40.In most people with glaucoma, the damage to the optic nerves is caused by increased pressure within the eyes (intraocular pressure). Intraocular pressure depends on a balance between fluid entering and leaving the eyes.Usually glaucoma develops in older adults, in whom the risk of developing the disorder may be affected by a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes mellitus, as well as family history. The risk of early-onset glaucoma depends mainly on heredity.Structural abnormalities that impede fluid drainage in the eye may be present at birth and usually become apparent during the first year of life. Such abnormalities may be part of a genetic disorder that affects many body systems, called a syndrome. If glaucoma appears before the age of 5 without other associated abnormalities, it is called primary congenital glaucoma.Other individuals experience early onset of primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common adult form of glaucoma. If primary open-angle glaucoma develops during childhood or early adulthood, it is called juvenile open-angle glaucoma.