Pediatric Eye Care
Development of the visual system occurs from birth through the first ten years of life. Ideally, children should have their first eye exam when they’re around 3 ½ years old, and an exam at any age if a problem is suspected. Having a complete eye exam will help diagnose vision problems without any symptoms, and vision problems in infants and toddlers who are not able to verbalize their frustrations. At the Eye Center of Northern Colorado, your child’s complete examination will help detect and treat any potential problems with their vision, including amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), significant refractive errors, or congenital cataracts. Early detection is vital to correcting these problems and others before they result in permanent damage.
Dr. Patrick Arnold is the Eye Center of Northern Colorado’s fellowship-trained ophthalmologist. Dr. Arnold is the only full-time specialist in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus in Northern Colorado. He and his excellent pediatric team are the best choice for your family and your child’s eye care needs.
“If you have a baby with eye problems, this is the place to go and Dr. Patrick Arnold is the man to see. Our nine-month-old son has exotropia and today he had the surgery to help fix it. Everything went as perfectly as any parent sending their baby into surgery could possibly hope for.”
– Ashlie S.
Common Eye Issues
Treatment of childhood eye diseases and vision problems is most successful at early ages, and may include glasses, patching, eye drops, or surgery. Here are some of the most common problems children can have with their eyes.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
Amblyopia is a condition where one eye does not 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.
When caught early, amblyopia is usually treatable with glasses or contact lenses. Placing an eye patch on the strong eye is also effective in forcing the “lazy eye” to develop normally. So, 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.
Strabismus results when your two eyes cannot keep proper alignment with each other, causing the eyes to look in different directions. There are several forms of strabismus:
- 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 most children do not outgrow. The brain often begins to ignore the visual images from the misaligned eye, which can lead to amblyopia. Strabismus can be treated through surgery or non-surgical treatments.
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.