Overview of Pediatric Eye Conditions

Vision loss during childhood can impact a child’s ability to learn important skills for growth, development and independence, such as crawling, walking, reading, writing and playing sports. About 60% of the patients served by the Retina Foundation of the Southwest are children affected by a pediatric eye condition, and our scientists and researchers are dedicated to saving sight during the most critical years of development.

The childhood eye disorders that we research include:

-Amblyopia (lazy eye)

-Cataracts in infants and young children

-Retinopathy of prematurity (retina disease in premature babies)

-Strabismus (crossed eyes and/or misaligned eyes)

How We Are Researching Pediatric Eye Conditions

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1.4 million blind children in the world today.  This means that one child goes blind every minute. Our pediatric research lab has made groundbreaking progress in the search for treatments to blinding and vision impairing eye conditions.

Our research has led to the discovery that DHA in mother’s milk is essential for infant eye and brain development. Now, enhanced formula containing DHA is sold worldwide. Our research has also transformed surgical practice through our discovery that congenital cataracts must be removed during the first weeks of life to enable normal vision and brain development. Our Crystal Charity Ball Pediatric Vision Laboratory is focusing on improving early detection and developing more effective treatments for pediatric eye disorders.

iPad Games and Movies to Treat Lazy Eye

We are evaluating a new binocular approach to treatment for lazy eye (amblyopia), using iPad games and movies to help the two eyes learn to work together.  We want to find out whether binocular treatments are effective in treating lazy eye and whether they reduce the risk for recurrence of lazy eye.

Lazy Eye and the Fellow Eye

Building on our identification of abnormal binocular visual experience as the critical factor causing lazy eye (amblyopia), we hypothesize that both eyes will be affected by this pediatric eye condition. We are investigating deficits in motion perception in the fellow eyes of children with lazy eye as a way to identify abnormal binocular function and to monitor its response to treatment.

Lazy Eye, Motor Skills, and Reading

We are investigating how lazy eye (amblyopia) affects developing fine motor skills, pointing and grasping, and reading. We want to determine which treatments may optimize rehabilitation of not only vision, but also eye-hand coordination and reading speed.

Vision Screening for Preschool Children

We are developing better ways to screen for vision problems in preschool children, including binocular birefringence scanning that has better accuracy than current screeners and an iPhone-based eye tracker that can be used even in remote areas of the world.

Eye Conditions’ Impact on Children’s Everyday Life

We are examining the impact of crossed eyes and lazy eye, the two most common pediatric eye conditions, on children’s everyday life, including motor skills, reading, pointing and grasping, and self-perception.

Vision Assessment of Special Needs Children

With a referral from a pediatric ophthalmologist, we perform free vision assessments for special needs infants and children.


Retina Foundation Helps Avery

Chance Encounter Leads to Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Kate