Hydrophthalmos

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Hydrophthalmos is an ocular condition also known as buphthalmos.


Hydrophthalmos is a form of glaucoma that is either present since birth (i.e. congenital) or develops in early infancy.

In the case of hydrophthalmos the high or increased pressure within the eye (increased intraocular pressure = glaucoma) is due to the failure of the tissues through which excess fluid would normally drain from the eye to develop normally.

Features of hydrophthalmos:

  • Large Eyes: The sclera (outer coat of the eyeball) of normal young children is able to stretch and expand. In the cases of those with hydrophthalmos, the whole eyeball increases in size as a result of the inflow of fluid that cannot drain away effectively. Unusually large eyes are therefore an important clinical feature in recognising cases of hydrophthalmos.
  • Another feature that may indicate hydrophthalmos is the presence of Haab's striae.

In most cases hydrophthalmos affects both eyes (i.e. it is bilateral), but the effect is not necessarily the same on each eye. For example, one eye might be slightly larger than the other even though both are larger than normal.

Hydrophthalmos may occur together with other congenital abnormalities elsewhere in the body.

Hydrophthalmos can be treated surgically such as by performing a goniotomy (which is also known as a trabeculectomy ). Untreated congenital glaucoma may lead to blindness.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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