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
  • Eye injuries
  • 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.
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