What is Pediatric Ophthalmology?
Pediatric ophthalmologists are doctors that care for children’s eyes. Since vision is not fully developed until the age of twelve, problems with children’s eyes and vision are much different than problems with adult eyes. The youngest patients may not be able to communicate about their vision clearly or cooperate with exams like an grown-up would. In addition, if issues are treated effectively in childhood, it can often improve healthy vision as an adult. For all these reasons, pediatric ophthalmologists are important partners when it comes to kids’ eye health.
Pediatric ophthalmology is about more than just prescribing glasses. Some of the issues treated by pediatric ophthalmologists include:
Amblyopia, or lazy eye
Eye alignment problems, such as strabismus
Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness
Congenital cataracts, when a baby is born with a cloudy lens in the eye
Vision problems caused by health issues that affect the whole body, such as juvenile diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Often, when adults are diagnosed with strabismus (eyes that are crossed or turn in different directions) they will be treated by a pediatric ophthalmologist, even though they are not children. Adult ophthalmologists seldom encounter strabismus, and pediatric ophthalmologists learn the techniques for treating strabismus are during their medical training. Since pediatric ophthalmologists have more experience with strabismus, they are the best choice even for adults.
Some of the treatments used by pediatric ophthalmologists include:
Prescription lenses, including glasses and contacts
Prescription medications to treat infections or inflammation
Other medical treatments, such as eye patches, tear duct massage, or eye exercises
Surgical procedures, such as those to repair blocked tear ducts or correct eye alignment
Laser treatments for retinopathy
Not being able to see well can make many parts of a child’s life difficult. Pediatric ophthalmologists work to protect your children’s vision now and into the future.
What is Ophthalmology?
An ophthalmologist is a physician who diagnoses and treats problems of the eye. As opposed to optometrists, ophthalmologists are medical doctors, and their specialty is comprehensive eye care and eye surgery. An ophthalmologist can:
see patients for routine eye care
diagnose eye problems
prescribe glasses, contact lenses, and medications
provide refractive therapies to correct vision, such as LASIK
perform surgery on the eye
Ophthalmologists are trained in the same vision screening practices as optometrists; however, their practice tends to focus more on the medical and surgical management of complex eye disorders. Although vision is important, so is the physical health of the eye. An ophthalmologist performing an eye exam will examine the whole eye including the eyelids, the muscles that move the eye, the front and back parts of the eye, and the pressure inside the eye.
Patients sometimes see ophthalmologists as their primary eye care and vision doctors, or they may be referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment of a one-time problem with their eye, such as an infection. Ophthalmologists provide routine care for patients who have chronic eye diseases, such as glaucoma (where pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve sending images to the brain) or macular degeneration (an age-related eye disease that causes vision loss). In addition to providing routine care, ophthalmologists will perform eye surgery on patients who need more serious treatment, such as a corneal transplant.
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