Angie's LIST Guide to
Pediatric ophthalmology

A pediatric ophthalmologist takes special care when evaluating your child's eyes, diagnosing any developmental problems and helping correct them to ensure their proper growth and development.
 

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Children often are diagnosed with illnesses and conditions that affect adults, but because of their special needs, they are often referred to pediatric specialists. Specialists in all areas can provide treatment plans to improve health and quality of life.
Children often are diagnosed with illnesses and conditions that affect adults, but because of their special needs, they are often referred to pediatric specialists. Specialists in all areas can provide treatment plans to improve health and quality of life.
 
 
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When your child should see an ophthalmologist

You may think that because your child has a yearly check-up, his or her eyesight is perfectly fine. But making sure your child is seeing clearly and has no vision problems is a very important part of regular physical exams.

Detecting a problem with a child's eyes is harder than diagnosing an adult's eyes. If a child has always had an eye problem, he or she may have become accustomed to the problem. The child may think that blurry vision or another vision problem is normal.

Vision problems can affect your child's ability to read, write and even speak. As a toddler, children learn by hearing and by seeing. If a child can't make out how lips are move while speaking, he or she will have a much harder time learning. Many eye and vision problems can affect children, and staying on top of routine eye exams is key.

Seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist is a very important step when it comes to ensuring your child's optimal health and wellness. These doctors are used to working with children and the unique vision problems a child may have. They specialize in eye diseases, eye development and vision care. 

Visiting a pediatric ophthalmologist

The first appointment with an eye doctor can be overwhelming for you, and for your child especially. Reassuring your child will help to ease some of the anxieties, but being ready will help as well.

When you arrive for your child's first appointment, the eye doctor will take a complete medical history and check your child's vision. The doctor or assistant may administer eye drops to dilate the pupils, which help ensure a more thorough examination.

The ophthalmologist will then perform other tests and exams. All of these will vary depending on the age of your child and how much they comprehend. For example, tests on a 1-year-old and tests on a 6-year-old will vary. A 1-year-old may be tested for reactions to light or color, whereas a 6-year-old will be asked to read or identify certain shapes, numbers or letters.

The eye doctor will compile these tests and results to reach a diagnosis and create a treatment plan specifically for your child. Your child will then have a follow-up exam to see if the treatment is working properly or needs to be adjusted.

Eye problems in children

Pediatric ophthalmology covers many eye problems. For example, infections of the eye are often referred to an ophthalmologist to make sure the infection does not affect the vision or damage the eye. A simple infection can do a lot of damage if it isn't treated properly.

Another common problem is strabismus, which occurs when the eye or eyes turn upward, outward, down or inward. When the eyes turn in this way, the condition is commonly called cross-eye and is usually corrected with surgery.

Amblyopia, another common condition known as lazy eye occurs when the vision in one eye is better than the other, causing one eye to compensate more and allowing the other eye to become lazy. Treatment often involves an eye patch worn over the dominant eye to help strengthen the weaker one.

A blocked tear duct can occur for many reasons, but it must be addressed promptly so it doesn't become a bigger problem. This can be treated with drops and an antibiotic.

The drooping or falling of the upper or lower eyelid is called ptosis. The drooping may become worse if a person is awake for long periods of time. This condition should be treated at a young age to avoid larger problems.

A pediatric cataract is a clouding that develops over the eye that can be seen as a white film over the eye. It effects vision and needs to be addressed, as it only gets worse with time, eventually leading to complete vision loss. Cataracts are almost always corrected with surgery, though eye drops may be used if the cataract is minor.

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