Pediatric ophthalmology is a subspecialty related to visual improvement, eye diseases, and vision care in children. If your child has an eye problem, has difficulty reading, or needs surgery or medical treatment for a disease that affects the eyes, a pediatric ophthalmologist will have the experience and qualifications to treat your child.
Reasons to visit a pediatric ophthalmologist
Early detection of eye problems can protect your child’s vision. There are warning signs your child may have an eye problem:
- Persistent watery eyes
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Sensitivity to light
- A white or yellow substance in the pupil (lack of red reflex)
- Redness that does not go away
- Pus or crust in the eyes
- Crossed or wandering eyes
- Frequent head tilting or face turning
- Drooping eyelids or bulging eyes
- Eyes moving back and forth involuntarily
Conditions pediatric ophthalmologists treat
Pediatric ophthalmologists treat children who have eye diseases such as:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Anisometropia: Unbalanced focus in a person’s eyes.
- Congenital cataracts: Cataracts that happen in newborns
- Dissociated vertical deviation: One eye that drifts gently upward
- Drooping eyelid (ptosis)
- Esotropia: One or both eyes that change inside, sometimes called crossed eyes
- Exotropia: One or both eyes that turn outward
- Ocular infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the eye, eyelid, or enclosing areas
- Ocular trauma: Injury to the eye, eyelid, or enclosing areas
- Retinopathy of prematurity: Eye disorder of the retina (back layer of the eye) that essentially affects premature babies.
- Strabismus: Misalignment of the eyes, either higher, downwards, outside, or inside, which can sometimes occur in adults or not be diagnosed until adulthood.
- Superior oblique palsy: Disorder of the fourth cranial nerve that causes instability in the eye muscle (superior oblique), occurring in misaligned eyes.
- Uveitis: Group of inflammatory conditions that effects swelling in the middle layer of the eye and can begin vision loss.
- Refraction (vision) errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
What kind of tests do pediatric ophthalmologists perform?
Vision Assessment: Special skills are required to assess a child’s vision, especially in preschool-age children. Different methods are used for different ages.
Refractive error diagnosis (need and resistance of glasses): This test is performed after an eruption in most pediatric patients to confirm objective measurement.
Mobility tests: Quantitative measurements of ocular misalignment are required to plan the medical and surgical treatment of strabismus.
Biomicroscopy and dilated fundus tests: These are required to investigate the behaviour of eye diseases related to diabetes, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, genetic abnormalities, neurological pathology (increased intracranial pressure), as well as systemic conditions such as cataracts and specific eye conditions and glaucoma.
Testing under anaesthesia (AUS): This may be necessary to diagnose and/or treat conditions in patients who are not allowed to perform proper tests/treatments in the workplace.
Monitor diseases over time and determines if treatment is working properly and make any necessary changes.
What kind of treatments do pediatric ophthalmologists provide?
Pediatric ophthalmologists can diagnose, treat, and control all children’s eye problems. Pediatric ophthalmologists generally provide the following services:
- Eye exams
- Perform surgery, microsurgery, and laser surgery (for obstacles like weak eye muscles, crossed eyes, wandering eyes, blocked tear ducts, retinal problems, and diseases)
- Diagnose problems of the eye affected by diseases of the body such as diabetes or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and other medical and neurological diseases.
- Diagnose visible processing disorders
- Care for eye injuries
What kind of procedures done by pediatric ophthalmologists?
Surgical procedures conducted by pediatric ophthalmologists, which include:
- Strabismus surgery: eye muscle surgery to repair misaligned eyes, crossed eyes, or walleyes.
- Blocked tear duct surgery: an outpatient procedure performed to address blocked tear ducts in children.
- Pediatric cataracts (cataract is either congenital/infantile and acquired/juvenile).
- Glaucoma cataract extraction: pediatric cataract extraction and replacement with intraocular lenses (IOL’s) in patients with glaucoma.
- Chalazion (eyelid cysts) excision: excision of a chalazion (eyelid cyst) and stye (eyelid margin cyst).
- Congenital ptosis (drooping eyelids) surgery.