Pediatric ophthalmologists focus on the development of the visual system and the various diseases that disrupt visual development in children. Pediatric ophthalmologists also have expertise in managing the various ocular diseases that affect children. Pediatric ophthalmologists are qualified to perform complex eye surgery as well as to manage children's eye problems using glasses and medications. Many ophthalmologists and other physicians refer pediatric patients to a pediatric ophthalmologist for examination and management of ocular problems due to children's unique needs. In addition to children with obvious vision problems, children with head turns, head tilts, squinting of the eyes, or preferred head postures (torticollis) are typically referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist for evaluation. Pediatric ophthalmologists typically also manage adults with eye movement disorders (strabismus) due to their familiarity with strabismus conditions.
Children experience a variety of eye problems, many quite distinct from adult eye diseases. Pediatric ophthalmologists are specially trained to manage the following disorders:
Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes that affects 2-4% of the population; it is often associated with amblyopia. The inward turning gaze commonly referred to as "crossed-eyes" is an example of strabismus. The term strabismus applies to other types of misalignments, including an upward, downward, or outward turning eye.
Amblyopia (aka lazy eye) occurs when the vision of one eye is significantly better than the other eye, and the brain begins to rely on the better eye and ignore the weaker one. Amblyopia affects 4% of the population and is clinically diagnosed when the refractive error of one eye is more than 1.5 diopters different than the other eye. The management of amblyopia involves correcting of significant refractive errors and using techniques that encourage the brain to pay attention to the weaker eye such as patching the stronger eye.
Blocked tear ducts.
Retinopathy of prematurity
Abnormal vision development
Genetic disorders often cause eye problems for affected children. Since approximately 30% of genetic syndromes affect the eyes, examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist can help with the diagnosis of genetic conditions. Many pediatric ophthalmologists participate with multi-disciplinary medical teams that treat children with genetic syndromes.
Congenital malformations affecting vision or the tear drainage duct system can be evaluated and possibly surgically corrected by a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Refractive errors such as myopia (near-sightedness) and astigmatism can often be corrected with prescriptions for glasses or contacts.
Convergence insufficiency and asthenopia
Evaluation of visual issues in education, including dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
Pediatric ophthalmologists often work in conjunction with orthoptists in the treatment of strabismus