The ophthalmology needs of children differ greatly from those of adults. A Pediatric ophthalmologist is specially trained to address those needs.
We have two board certified pediatric ophthalmologists on staff to serve the needs all children and infants.
Strabismus is a vision problem in which both eyes do not look at the same point at the same time. Strabismus most often begins in early childhood. It is sometimes called "cross-eyes," "walleye," or "squint."
Normally, the muscles surrounding each eye work together to move both eyes in the same direction at the same time. Strabismus occurs when the eye muscles do not work properly to control eye movement. When the eye muscles do not work correctly, the eyes may become misaligned, and the brain may not be able to merge the two images.
Amblyopia is an eye problem that causes poor vision in children. The problem starts when the pathways of vision in the brain don't grow strong enough. Pathways are a little like roads--they carry vision messages from eye to brain. Amblyopia is also called "lazy eye."
What Causes Amblyopia?
All babies are born with poor eyesight. As babies grow, their eyesight gets better. Good eyesight needs a clear, focused image that is the same in both eyes. If the image isn't clear in one eye, or if the image isn't the same in both eyes, the vision pathways won't develop right. In fact, the pathways may actually get worse.
Anything that happens to blur the vision or cause the eyes to be crossed during childhood may cause amblyopia. For example, the image might be different in both eyes if the child has strabismus. Strabismus (also called "crossed eyes") causes the eyes to not focus the same. Children who need glasses to see better, or have cataracts, a droopy eyelid, or crossed or wandering eyes may also get amblyopia. About 5% of children have amblyopia.
Cataracts can occur in infants and children. The lens of the eye is normally a clear structure, but if cloudiness or opacities form in the lens, it is called a cataract. A cataract can sometimes be seen as a white opacity in the usually dark pupil, however some cataracts cannot be detected without a complete medical eye exam.
Congenital cataracts are cataracts present at birth. Developmental cataracts appear later in a child's life and may progress. Congenital and developmental cataracts may affect multiple family members over several generations. They may be associated with infections during pregnancy, metabolic abnormalities, or genetic diseases.
Cataracts in children can prevent vision from developing normally. If not treated quickly, cataracts can cause permanent visual loss which will not improve even after the cataract is removed.
Visually significant cataracts in infants and children are treated by surgical removal of the cloudy lens. After surgery, small infants will require glasses or contact lenses to provide a focused image to the eye and allow vision to develop. Older children who have cataract surgery can have an intraocular lens implant placed in the eye at the time of surgery, which eliminates the need for thick glasses or contact lenses following the procedure. Patching may also be needed after cataract surgery to maximize visual development in some children.
Children with Special Needs
The doctors at Eye Care Physicians of New Jersey use special examination equipment in evaluating special needs children so that they can carefully follow and treat the potentially vision threatening disorders.
At the Eye Care Physicians of New Jersey we understand that eye examinations, eyeglass or contact lens fittings and treatment of visual impairments can be difficult and stressful for children. It takes extra time, special equipment, and a love of little children. Visual examinations are very important during the early stages of development and can prevent many future problems.
The doctors at Eye Care Physicians of New Jersey are experienced in recognizing and treating the early onset of all vision problems and can often offer preventive care to avoid future difficulties. The friendly and caring staff at our clinics will put your child at ease and allow them to feel comfortable and secure during what is often an uncomfortable experience.
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