Pediatric ophthalmology is a sub-specialty of ophthalmology dealing with children’s eye diseases. The most common visual problems in children are refractive errors requiring glasses, strabismus, amblyopia, and congenital nasal lacrimal duct obstructions.
Strabismus is a condition in which each eye points in a different direction. While one eye is straight, the other eye either turns in, out, up, or down. Strabismus affects approximately 4% of all children, and left untreated, it may lead to permanent reduced vision. Children often do not outgrow strabismus. Since treatment for strabismus is often more effective in younger children, early evaluation and treatment of this problem is very important.
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is a serious eye condition, in which the vision in one eye fails to develop to its full potential. When it is caught early in childhood, it is usually treatable. It is the most common cause of visual loss in children. However, it does need to be treated in early childhood for best outcome.
Congenital nasal lacrimal duct obstruction is a very common cause of tearing and discharge in infants. The majority of children typically outgrow this problem by six-months-of-age. Massage is very important to help facilitate the clearing of this problem. Sometimes eye drops are prescribed to help manage the condition. If the problem does not resolve over the course of six months to one year of life, probing can be done to open the tear duct. Nasal lacrimal duct obstruction does not affect visual acuity in children.
There are other less common causes of visual problems in children. These include congenital cataracts, congenital optic nerve problems, and retinal problems. Your ophthalmologist can diagnose these conditions with a complete eye exam.