Pediatric Eye Care
The Eye Center of Northern Colorado has a fellowship trained pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Patrick Arnold, to meet your child’s eye care needs. Dr. Arnold and his pediatric team are Fort Collins’ best option for helping your children with their eye care needs. Development of the visual system occurs from birth through the first decade of life. Several conditions such as misalignment of the eyes (strabismus), significant refractive errors and cataracts can interfere with visual development. Some conditions have no symptoms and can only be detected through a complete eye examination. We suggest that all children have an initial eye exam before starting school to detect any problems that may interfere with learning. Treatment of childhood eye diseases is most successful at early ages and may include glasses, patching, eye drops or even surgery. An examination can be performed at any age if a problem is suspected.
Routine evaluation is ideally performed around 3½ years of age. At The Eye Center of Northern Colorado, your child will undergo a complete examination in order to detect and treat any potential problems like amblyopia, strabismus or congenital cataracts.
It is not always easy to diagnose vision problems in infants and young children because they cannot verbalize their frustrations. Early detection is vital to correcting these problems before they result in permanent damage.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia is a condition where one eye does reach visual acuity as fast as the other eye, causing vision problems. This condition can be hard for parents to diagnose because it may not be outwardly visible. If you notice any strange vision habits with your infant or young child, it is best to schedule an eye exam as quickly as possible. Treatment with prescription glasses or contact lenses can be effective. Placing an eye patch on the strong eye is also effective in forcing the amblyopic eye to develop normally.
Strabismus results when your two eyes cannot keep proper alignment with each other, causing the eyes to look in different directions:
- Crossed (esotropia)
- One straight/one down (hypotropia)
- One straight/one out (exotropia)
- One straight/one up (hypertropia)
This can be a constant or frequently-occurring vision problem that can be treated through surgery or non-surgical treatments. Most children do not grow out of this condition. The brain often begins to ignore the visual images from the misaligned eye which can lead to amblyopia.
Cataracts typically affect older adults; however, there are cases of cataracts affecting people at birth. Congenital cataracts are formed when naturally occurring proteins in the eye lens become clumped. The result is cloudy vision that may affect the entire lens or just portions of the lens. Congenital cataracts can lead to amblyopia or strabismus because the child will try to overcompensate for the blurred vision.
Not all congenital cataracts must be removed immediately. When they begin to affect the child’s vision and daily life, cataract surgery may be recommended. Cataract surgery involves removing the affected lens and replacing it with a new, clear Intraocular Lens (IOL).