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Pediatric Ophthalmology

Pediatric ophthalmology is a subspecialty of ophthalmology that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye problems in children.

These eye problems include vision problems or visual disorders, eye misalignments (strabismus), refractive errors (nearsightedness -myopia-, farsightedness, astigmatism), eye infections, eye tumors, and other eye diseases or conditions.

Pediatric ophthalmology has a long history dating back to the early 1900s, when eye examinations were first performed on newborns in hospitals. In the mid-20th century, advances in technology and research led to the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments for eye disease in children.

Today, pediatric ophthalmologists use a variety of techniques, including vision tests, eye exams, imaging and surgery, to diagnose and treat eye problems in children of all ages. They may also work closely with other specialists such as pediatricians, neurologists and geneticists to provide comprehensive care for children with complex medical needs.

Overall, pediatric ophthalmology plays a critical role in helping children maintain healthy eyes and good vision, as well as identifying and treating eye problems that can affect their development and quality of life.

The Most Common Pediatric Ophthalmology Procedures

Pediatric ophthalmology includes a number of procedures to diagnose, treat and manage eye problems in children. Some of the most common procedures include:

Smiling child boy in glasses checks eye vision at pediatric ophthalmologist
  • Comprehensive eye exams: A comprehensive eye exam includes visual acuity, refraction and eye muscle test, and an examination of the retina, optic nerve and other structures of the eye.
  • Vision screening: These tests are done to detect early signs of vision problems in children. They are also quick and easy and may include tests such as the Snellen chart, which measures distance vision.
  • Glasses or contact lenses: Many children with refractive errors such as myopia, hypermetropia or astigmatism need glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision.
  • Treatment for Amblyopia: Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is a common condition that can cause vision problems in children. Treatment may include patching the stronger eye or using atropine drops to encourage use of the weaker eye.
  • Strabismus surgery: this is a condition in which the eyes are misaligned, and surgery may be needed to correct the alignment of the eyes.
  • Treatment for eye infections: Children may be prone to eye infections such as conjunctivitis, which may need to be treated with antibiotics or other medications.
  • Treatment for congenital cataract: This is a type of cataract that is present at birth and may require surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens.

Overall, pediatric ophthalmologists work closely with children and their families to create individualized treatment plans that address children’s specific eye problems and needs.

Follow-up in Pediatric Ophthalmology

The aftercare part of pediatric ophthalmology depends on the specific procedure or treatment the children have received. Below are some general instructions that may be recommended.

  • Rest and recovery: Depending on the procedure, the child may need to rest for a period of time after treatment and avoid strenuous activities to allow for proper healing.
  • Use of eye drops: Eye drops or ointments may be prescribed to help with healing and prevent infection. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for using these medications.
  • Avoiding rubbing or touching the eyes: To prevent infection and protect the eyes, children should avoid rubbing or touching the eyes during the recovery period.
  • Eye protection: Depending on the procedure, eye protection may be recommended to prevent eye injury during activities such as sports or swimming.
  • Follow-up appointments: Children will need to attend follow-up appointments with their doctor to monitor their progress and make sure the treatment is working effectively.
  • Adherence to a treatment plan: It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan, including taking prescribed medications, and to inform the doctor if there are any changes or concerns.

The post-surgical period is important in pediatric ophthalmology to promote healing and ensure the best results for the child’s eye health. It is important that parents follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and see a doctor if there are any concerns or complications.

Pediatric ophthalmology costs vary depending on the specific procedure or treatment required. Factors that may affect the cost include the extent of the procedures, the location of the practice, and the experience of the doctor.


The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that children have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, followed by exams at 3 years of age and again at 5-6 years of age. Children who have a family history of eye problems or who show signs of eye problems should be examined more frequently.

Yes, in general it is safe for children to wear contact lenses, but it depends on the individual child’s maturity level and ability to follow instructions for proper contact lens care and hygiene. A pediatric ophthalmologist can help determine if they are appropriate for a child.

Parents should schedule an appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist if they notice signs of eye problems in their child, such as crossed or misaligned eyes, excessive tearing or discharge, redness or swelling of the eye, or difficulty seeing or reading. Early detection and treatment can help prevent long-term vision problems.

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