Three Eye Conditions Often Treated By A Pediatric Ophthalmologist

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A pediatric ophthalmologist is a highly trained medical doctor specializing in the diagnostics and treatment of eye conditions in children. If your child has shown unusual signs of vision problems, such as constant rubbing of the eyes, sensitivity to light, squinting, eye redness or crossed eyes, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a specialist or a place like the Advanced Retinal Institute Inc. The following is a closer look at three eye conditions that may be diagnosed and treated by a pediatric ophthalmologist:

1. Amblyopia

In layman's terms, this condition is sometimes referred to as "lazy eye". If your child has been diagnosed with ambylopia, he or she may have inferior vision in one eye. Children born prematurely have a higher risk for developing this condition.

Lazy eye also occurs during a child's early developmental stages. When the brain tends to "favor" one eye over the other or the muscles within the eye become unbalanced, the weaker eye may drift outward or inward. If you notice an unbalance of your child's eyes, it's a good idea to see a pediatric ophthalmologist, as amblyopia may lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.

After a thorough eye examination and diagnosis, the eye doctor may prescribe one or more treatment options. If the amblyopia is caused by nearsightedness or farsightedness, prescription eyeglasses may help correct the problem. If your child's eye wanders inward or outward, other measures may be taken.

The eye doctor may recommend wearing an eye patch on the unaffected eye. The patch may be worn for a few hours a day for several weeks. By wearing the patch on the "strong" eye, the weaker eye may be triggered to work harder. This stimulation may help correct the issue.

In addition, your child may benefit from the use of topical atropine eye drops in the stronger eye. The drops are meant to cause minor blurred vision in the stronger eye. This may encourage stimulation of the "lazy eye", forcing it to work more efficiently.

In more severe cases of amblyopia, surgery may be recommended. The pediatric ophthalmologist may need to repair droopy eye muscles caused by the condition. Strengthening the weak muscles of the eye structure may correct misalignment of the eyes as well.

2. Pediatric Cataracts

Sometimes an infant is born with a cloudy eye lens. This is known as a congenital cataract, and if left untreated, it may affect vision later on. Although uncommon, a child may acquire a cataract which may be detected during an eye exam. When this occurs, it may be due to hereditary factors.

Laser eye surgery to remove the clouded lens may be necessary to prevent vision loss. A process known as an intraocular lens implant may also be performed. Basically, this is an artificial lens that is implanted into the eye, which replaces the clouded natural lens that was removed. The eye doctor may also prescribe corrective eyeglasses after surgery.

3. Pediatric Glaucoma

Glaucoma is characterized by an unusual increase in intraocular pressure within the eye. Although considered a rare condition in children, it may lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. The cause is often genetic, although an underlying medical issue may be a contributing factor. If your child has been diagnosed with this eye disease, surgery to reduce the fluid retention and subsequent pressure within the eye will most likely be necessary. During the surgery, the eye doctor may create a small opening in which fluid may drain from the eye.

As a general rule, the key to preventing complications from potential vision problems is to have your child's eyes examined routinely. Comprehensive eye exams can detect problems early on. Because some vision problems are unique to children, seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist is recommended.