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Children’s Ophthalmology FAQs

Children’s Ophthalmology FAQs

What is Ophthalmopediatrics?
It is a branch of ophthalmology that specializes in treating children’s vision. Children are not small adults. Their eyes have other diseases, other causes, and other treatments and care needs.

What diseases and conditions does Ophthalmopediatrics treat?
Congenital Cataracts, Congenital Glaucoma, Retinopathy of Prematurity, Strabismus, Amblyopia, Refractive errors (Myopia, Hyperopia, Astigmatism), infections, and Ocular Allergies.

When does a child need to receive their first checkup?
Every child must be checked by an Ophthalmologist at 4 weeks of age. In premature children, this checkup is especially important due to the risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity. If all is normal at 4 weeks, then children only need annual checkups. 

Should we worry about frequent tearing in children?
Although frequent tearing can occur and be normal at a very young age, it is something parents should watch and discuss with a doctor if the tearing is causing the child discomfort or affecting eye function. There are many conditions in which excessive tearing is a symptom, such as Lacrimal Obstruction or even Congenital Glaucoma. There are other conditions in which tears can gather and cause infection. Frequent eye infections or Conjunctivitis must be treated, or there is a risk of eye damage.

What refractive errors appear in children?
Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), and Astigmatism (distorted focus).

What are the signs that my child doesn’t see well and needs glasses?
Children rarely notice that they see incorrectly, especially if that’s how they’ve seen all their life. Therefore, parents cannot rely on their children to tell them they have trouble seeing. Teachers are often the ones who notice an issue due to common signs in school, such as squinting, covering one eye, or tilting the head when examining something in detail or reading something on the wall. If there is a history of using glasses in the family, it is very likely that the child will need them. In older kids who may have undiagnosed vision problems, it is very common to tire quickly when reading and/or to suffer frequent headaches. Regularly scheduled annual eye exams not only search for symptoms of serious disease but perform highly effective vision tests. Things happen, and eyes change. If it has been more than a year since your child’s last comprehensive eye examination, please schedule a consultation with our Pediatric Ophthalmologist.

Can laser surgery (LASIK) be performed during childhood?
No, it cannot be done during childhood. Eyes must be fully mature, and vision stabilized before LASIK can be performed. This surgery is available to patients 18 years or older if they are candidates.

Why do children sometimes develop a stye?
Styes form when a gland close to the eye clogs due to being touched by dirty hands or by some diseases of the palpebral edge. It is very important to check on a stye because the earlier it is found, the easier it is to resolve with simple treatments, such as drops and gentle massage. If it is not resolved in this manner, surgical removal is necessary. 

What are the most common causes of red eye in children?
Red eyes in children do not usually indicate a severe condition. In most cases, red-eye occurs due to Conjunctivitis, Dry Eye, or fixed vision on electronic devices.

What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia refers to a condition where the two eyes differ in visual acuity, with one eye having much poorer vision than the other to the point where the dominant eye may “take over” and the poorer performing eye continues to weaken. It is sometimes called lazy eye. 

What causes Amblyopia?
When one eye requires a strong prescription (far, near, or distorted focus) and the other doesn’t the brain disregards the blurry image and will rely on the eye that sees clearly. The visual pathway in the eye that requires prescription will deteriorate through lack of use. Eventually, without optic correction, the eye can stop developing. 

Can Amblyopia be corrected?
Yes. Glasses, sensorial therapies, and patches are all effective treatment options.

What is Strabismic Amblyopia?
This condition can be caused by Strabismus, which occurs when the eyes do not align and focus on the same object in tandem as they should. A child can have perfect 20/20 vision and still be unable to see because of this misalignment due to poor muscle control or development. This condition can be corrected with good glasses and therapy with patches, as well as treating any motor control issues through surgery or botulinum toxins (Botox).

Can a child’s vision recover from Amblyopia?
Yes. If the condition is detected early and there are frequent checkups as scheduled by the eye doctor, it is possible for children to recover from Amblyopia. If an eye loses its vision, the older the child, the harder it will be to recover. If not caught in time or not treated with discipline and frequent checkups, then the patient could have low vision for the rest of their life.

Why is it important to check the vision of premature babies?
Premature children are given oxygen, which is a risk factor in developing a disease called Retinopathy of Prematurity. If this Retinopathy is not detected in time, it can detach the child’s retina, so premature babies must be given the requisite eye exam.

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