The pediatric ophthalmologist at Premier Medical specializes in the visual development, care, and diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders in children.
The brain cells that control our vision are not fully developed when we are born and continue to develop throughout the first decade of life. Because of the immaturity of the child’s visual system, disorders that may have little effect on an adult’s ability to see can have a profound and lifelong effect on a child’s vision.
Pediatric Eye Problems
Common pediatric eye problems include:
Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes. Types include esotropia (“crossed eyes”) and exotropia (“wall-eyed”). Treatment may involve eyeglasses, prism, and/or eye muscle surgery.
It is estimated that 4% of the U.S. population has strabismus. It is caused when there is a breakdown between the eye muscles that work in tandem to focus both eyes on the same object. As a result, one eye looks at one object, while the other eye turns in a different direction.
There are many different types of strabismus, but the most common types are:
- Esotropia – an inward turning of the eyes (“cross-eyed”)
- Exotropia – an outward turning of the eyes (“wall-eyed”)
- Hypotropia – abnormal eye is lower than the normal eye
- Hypertropia – abnormal eye is higher than the normal eye
While strabismus is most common in children, it can occur in adults. Conditions like stroke, trauma, neurological problems and Graves disease can be causes.
Often the first step in treating strabismus in children is eyeglasses. Other treatments may include eye exercises and an eye patch which forces the weaker eye to work harder. In some cases, eye muscle surgery may be needed.
Adults with mild strabismus may respond to glasses and prism to help keep the eyes straight. More severe forms will require surgery to correct the problem.
Refractive Error refers to nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Some large or unusual refractive errors require glasses or even contact lenses in infants and children.
Myopia, or nearsightedness is a very common vision problem and occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than usual from front to back. This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface. nearsightedness runs in families and usually appears in childhood. This vision problem may stabilize at a certain point, although sometimes it worsens with age.
Amblyopia, or “lazy eye”, results in blurred vision in one eye. There are several different types and causes of amblyopia and, if not treated, the condition can cause permanent loss of vision even by the age of 6-9 years old.
Glasses and/or contact lenses, surgery, and forcing the child to use the non- dominant eye through use of an eye patch or eye drops are among the usual treatments for amblyopia. Early detection is key to successful treatment.