All ophthalmologists have training in treating children’s eyes, but a pediatric ophthalmologist has undergone additional training with an emphasis on children. As a medical and surgical practitioner, a pediatric ophthalmologist brings an extra level of expertise in examining children’s eyes.
A pediatric ophthalmologist is a specialist in eye diseases that commonly affect children too. The difference can be very important while your child is still developing. Children continue to develop neurological pathways from their brains that affect vision until they are 12 years old. Healthy development can be greatly stunted by certain eye diseases. By having your child treated early by a doctor experienced in the various specifics of childhood eye development, you can avoid many of the complications.
Other Developments Occurring Simultaneously
While children are still growing, other organs and systems in the body interact; abnormalities in one system may greatly affect another developing process. Pediatric ophthalmologists are trained to watch for and diagnose these co-occurring issues. Childhood conditions that play a role in the neurological development of the eyes can include:
- Usher syndrome that often results in deafness and/or blindness
- Juvenile Alport syndrome, a hereditary kidney disorder that leads to myopia
- Pre- or postnatal infections
- Down syndrome
- Marshall syndrome
- Juvenile arthritis
Very often, babies are born with obvious signs of eye abnormalities that a trained pediatric ophthalmologist can address right away. Parents know what to expect, treatment begins as soon as possible and the odds improve for your child to continue with a more normal development when your doctor is aware of and treating early onset eye disorders that may consist of:
- Eye misalignment
- Asymmetric refractive error between the eyes
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
To qualify as a pediatric ophthalmologist, a doctor must spend at least 75 percent of his practice time treating children. Adults with strabismus also are treated by pediatric ophthalmologists and count toward the 75 percent threshold.
In addition to completing medical school, to be certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, pediatric ophthalmologists must:
- Complete a one-year internship with direct patient care in the specialty field
- Spend three to four years in a residency program
- Obtain successful evaluations in pediatric ophthalmology rotations
- Successfully complete written and oral board certification exams within five years of graduation from the residency program
- Maintain board certifications with regular, rigorous continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on the advances affecting pediatrics — recertification also means that your board certified pediatric ophthalmologist undergoes active accountability with a group of his peers
Common Childhood Vision Problems
Watch for signs and symptoms that your growing child may be having difficulties seeing the blackboard or complaining about visual clarity so that you can find an experienced specialist to step in. Common childhood eye conditions seen regularly by your pediatric ophthalmologist, in addition to those conditions listed above, include:
- Ptosis or droopy eye
- Orbital cellulitis
- Chalazion a bump on the eyelid
Unfortunately, it’s common for parents to put their whole trust in school vision tests to diagnose their children’s visual acuity. Many eye problems don’t come under the purview of school testing boundaries but may have an enormous impact on your child’s ability to learn. Common signs that your child may be experiencing eye problems include:
- Headaches on a regular basis
- Constant eye rubbing
- Covering one eye to see clearer
- Avoiding reading
- Refusing to participate in visual games
- Short attention span
- One eye occasionally turning in or out
- Holding books close to the face to make out words and pictures
- Double vision
- Head turning from side to side
Tests Performed by Pediatric Ophthalmologists
Ophthalmologists who deal with children use different methods than those used by those whose primary focus is adults. It also takes certain, highly developed skills to get your kids to sit still and cooperate with the tests — skills that your pediatric ophthalmologist is well-versed in.
Some of the tests that eye doctors who specialize in children may employ include:
- Dilation is an integral part of assessing the strength of glasses needed by a child. An objective measurement is required to get your child in the right eyewear once it’s been determined that he needs corrective lenses.
- Biomicroscopy means looking at your child’s eye under a microscope.
- Sometimes, young children need to be anesthetized for the doctor to make a complete ocular examination.
- Mobility exams determine the amount of surgery or adaptive training needed when your child has a lazy eye
- Tests to monitor co-existing diseases that affect eyesight
In addition to the special attention and assistance needed to examine your child’s eyes, a pediatric ophthalmologist has the expertise you expect to obtain a proper diagnosis. The doctor develops a wealth of practice with various treatments common to younger patients, such as:
- Topical ointments to treat eye infections
- Therapies for alleviating blocked tear ducts or inflammation
- Prescribing medicines in appropriate child doses such as antivirals, antibiotics and steroids
- Writing prescriptions for glasses
- Supplying you with and teaching you how to use patches to treat some conditions
- Eye muscle surgery
- Surgical probes and irrigation
- Pediatric cataract extraction
Follow-Ups and Results
Kids who receive proper eye care from an early age have a much better chance of learning and developing to the best of their abilities, no matter what level of vision they possess. A caring, committed pediatric ophthalmologist can make all the difference in your child’s future. To make sure certain eye diseases are treated properly with the appropriate amount of intervention, rely on the expertise of a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Even when your child has an irreversible eye disorder, by working with a specialist, you can be sure your child has the proper assistive devices, follow-up care and access to the latest treatments. And as a parent of a child with eye issues, you can be assured you have the most up-to-date and accurate information from that same specialist.
Do you have any questions about Pediatric Ophthalmologist NYC? Would like to schedule an appointment with NYC Optometrist Dr. Saba Khodadadian of Manhattan Eye Specialists, please contact our office for consultation with NY eye doctor.
Dr. Saba Khodadadian, Optometrist (NYC Eye Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 533-4821