Diseases of the eye in infants and children is a subspecialty of ophthalmology known as pediatric ophthalmology. These conditions include strabismus (wandering eye), and ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid), amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (wandering eye), congenital glaucoma, congenital cataracts, and infections. All of these must be detected and treated early in order to correct or even preserve vision.
Examination by the Age of Four
Before the age of four, all children have their vision checked by their pediatrician, family doctor, or ophthalmologist. The child should be referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist for a more specialized eye exam if a problem is detected. Many serious eye problems that affect children can be diagnosed during an eye examination at that time.
Treatments The pediatric ophthalmologist may recommend treatments of the following:
- Congenital glaucoma and congenital cataracts may both be treated surgically.
- Eye infections can most likely be cleared up with antibiotic drops. Occasionally oral medication is needed for more serious infections.
- To correct amblyopia (lazy eye), to help strengthen the weak eye, a patch is placed over the weak eye. Occasionally eye drops are used to blur the vision of the strong eye to cause the child to use the weak eye. Glasses may be prescribed to correct errors in focusing.
- Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not perfectly aligned. A child with strabismus can be “cross-eyed” (esotropic) or “wall-eyed” (exotropic). Corrective lenses can be used to improve vision in some cases. Other types may require surgery.
- Drooping eyelids, or ptosis, can be treated with surgery.