This is a report on infant eye diseases compiled from a discussion of Dr. Lawrence M. Kaufman, MD, PhD. He specifically discusses about the eye diseases that develops commonly in infants which might be of great help for the parents of newborn babies. It will surely make you aware about the diseases and their possible treatments as you read through.
- Some newborns may catch conjunctivitis as they pass through the birth canal. Older babies can get this eye infection through exposure to persons infected with it. Infected eyes appear red and puffy and have a sticky discharge. Antibiotic eye drops may be given as treatment.
- Many a times you would find tears drain from the eyes of your baby through a duct, leading from the inside corner of the eyelid, and into the nose. Some babies are born with a blocked tear duct, which causes tears to back up and overflow. As these infants are prone to eye infections, antibiotics may need to be prescribed. In most cases, the tear ducts open on their own by 1 year of age. Sometimes massage therapy of the duct may be needed. Occasionally the ophthalmologist must perform a surgical procedure to unblock the tear duct.
- Inside the eye is a lens that helps it focus, similar to the lens on a camera. The eye’s lens normally is crystal clear. Rarely, babies are born with a cataract- cloudiness of the lens that keeps light from passing through. Cataracts in infants usually are found by the pediatrician during newborn or well-baby exams. If the cataract is severe, the pupil appears white; surgery may be required to remove the cataract.
- Strabismus means that the eyes are misaligned. For instance, one eye may be turned in- esotropia (crossed eye)- or turned out- exotropia (walleye). There are actually many forms of strabismus. Eye alignment is normally unsteady at birth but by 4 months of age the eyes should be straight. Any infant who continues to show an eye misalignment after 4 months of age or a child who later acquires strabismus should have a complete eye exam. Untreated strabismus may lead to amblyopia. It is a myth that kids outgrow strabismus.
- Amblyopia (commonly called lazy eye) is the medical term for a loss of vision in an apparently healthy eye. This occurs in babies and young children if there is an imbalance between the eyes. In these cases, the child may subconsciously use one eye more often.
The other eye will then lose vision due to disuse. An eye imbalance can occur when there is cataract, strabismus, ptosis (droopy eyelid), eye injury or a refractive error that is worse in one eye. Amblyopia usually does not have symptoms and often is discovered at a school vision screening. It is ideally treated by an eye doctor before the child is 6 to 10 years old, or the vision loss will be permanent.
Treatment encourages the child to use the lazy eye by wearing glasses, and/or wearing a patch over the “good” eye or instilling an eye drop to the good eye.
- In a few children, the muscle that raises the upper eyelid fails to develop properly in one or both eyes. This muscle weakness, which causes the upper eyelid to droop, is called ptosis. When an eyelid droops and covers half the eye, that eye may mistakenly appear smaller than the other. Ptosis sometimes may result in amblyopia. If the ptosis is severe, surgery is required to lift the eyelid.
- If a baby is born prematurely, the blood vessels in the eye that supply the retina are not fully developed. Sometimes these blood vessels develop abnormally and may damage the inside of the eye. Retinopathy of prematurity can be detected only during an ophthalmic exam, which should be performed in premature babies during the first few weeks of life. If the disease is advanced, the eye can be treated to prevent blindness.
- Sometimes an infant does not begin to pay attention to visual stimuli by 6 to 8 weeks of age, as is normal. This may be due to delayed development of the visual system, common in premature infants and also occurring in some full-term babies.
Often the visual system will mature normally with time. However, visual inattention can also be a sign of eye disease and may result in permanent and/or progressive vision loss. A complete eye exam is in order if a full-term, healthy baby appears visually inattentive after 3 months of age.
Infant eye diseases if reaches their chronicity, may be very complicated since children often cant bear with the pain. That is why it is important to consult doctor as early as possible. On the other hand its for the doctors to administer the babies with milder drugs if required since higher doses can give rise to other complications.