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Pediatric Ophthalmology

Pediatric ophthalmology is a specialty within ophthalmology that focuses on diagnoses and treatments of infants, children and adolescents. Most infants are born with normal, healthy eyes. Some, however, are born with serious eye problems such as glaucoma, congenital cataracts, torn or detached retinas. The sooner eye diseases and disorders are discovered, the sooner successful treatments can be initiated.

Many abnormal conditions occur in the eye without presenting any noticeable symptoms. Identification occurs when an ophthalmologist looks inside the eye.

Some visual problems in infants do not require special diagnostic equipment. A parent is likely to be the first person to notice misaligned eyes (strabismus), an inability to track moving objects or sensitivity to light. The family’s ophthalmologist should be informed of these observations.

A child’s anatomy develops rapidly during their “formative years”. Some eye conditions may appear abnormal to parents but they are elements of vision that are still in development. The coordinated focusing of each eye on the same moving object does not completely develop until about 7 years of age, for example. At this time, refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism (blur) and poor depth perception may also be discovered. An ophthalmologist with pediatric experience understands these developmental stages.

Throughout childhood, inflamed eye tissues are a prevalent problem. The inflammation is usually caused by allergies, bacterial and viral infections.Small bumps may appear on the inside or along the edge of an eyelid. These bumps are called chalazia or styes. Pink Eye is an inflammation of the conjunctiva - the thin, clear membrane covering the surface of the eye. It also lines the eyelids. Infectious Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious. Air-born particles can also inflame the conjunctiva. Although not contagious, Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis can be very irritating, especially to a child.

Accurate prescribing for these conditions depends upon knowledgeable evaluations. Medications and dosage vary for many reasons; an important treatment variable of which the prescribing physician needs to be keenly aware. Playful children sometimes hurt themselves and their playmates. As children begin to compete in team sports and participate in athletic activities, the probability of eye injury increases. Every eye injury has the potential to become a serious condition. If not promptly evaluated and expertly treated, even a minor eye injury can develop into a major vision disorder.

Diabetes has become one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Adolescents are being diagnosed with non-insulin dependent diabetes at record levels.All adolescents with diabetes - insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent – are at risk for diabetic retinopathy; vision loss caused by leaking blood vessels attributed to elevated blood sugar.

Regular eye examinations by an ophthalmologist are essential for identifying pediatric eye diseases and disorders that can be detected only by looking inside the eye.

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This content does not constitute health advice or establish a doctor-patient relationship.