Overview of Pediatric Eye Disorders

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 disorder, 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 Disorders

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 disorders.

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 amblyopia treatment, 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 amblyopia (lazy eye) and whether they reduce the risk for recurrence of amblyopia.

Vision Screening for Preschool Children

We are developing better ways 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 Growth in Farsighted Children

In a prospective, longitudinal study, the Pediatric Laboratory is exploring the visual signals that guide eye growth in hyperopic (farsighted) children, the type of refractive error that may cause strabismus (crossed eyes and/or misaligned eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye).

Eye Conditions’ Impact on Children’s Everyday Life

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

Role of LCPs for Good Vision and Brain Development

We are exploring whether daily intake of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) is needed during the 12-36 month age range to ensure optimum vision and brain development.

Vision Assessment of Special Needs Children

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


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