Ophthalmology (Eye Care)

Many pediatric vision problems and eye diseases can be corrected if detected and treated early. When it comes to your child’s eyes, high-quality pediatric ophthalmology care is of the utmost importance. Pediatric eye problems are often very different from adult eye diseases and pediatric ophthalmologists (eye doctors who are also surgeons) are specially trained to manage and treat children's eye conditions.

 
Common Pediatric Eye Problems
  • amblyopia (lazy eye: with one weak eye and one strong one)
  • blocked tear ducts and defects (from the ducts not forming correctly)
  • glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve from a build-up of pressure in the eye)
  • cataract (a clouding of the eye’s lens)
  • eye injuries
  • ptosis (drooping eyelid)
  • refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism)
  • retinopathy of prematurity (a disease that occurs in premature babies and causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina)
  • retinoblastoma (a type of tumor involving the retina)
  • retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and other retinal dystrophies (diseases that cause damage to the retina
  • strabismus (wandering eye or “cross eyes”)
 
When to Schedule Pediatric Eye Exams

Children whose parents or siblings have eye conditions, such as strabismus or amblyopia, are more likely to have these eye disorders themselves, even if they don't have obvious signs of pediatric eye problems.

If your child has a certain medical condition such as diabetes, or a genetic disease like neurofibromatosis, it's a good idea to have regular pediatric eye exams with a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Early signs of serious pediatric eye problems, which should be evaluated by a doctor, include:

  • poor vision
  • eye pain
  • changes in the shape or size of an eye
  • crossed or wandering eyes
  • abnormal appearance of the pupil of one or both eyes

Genetic conditions can often cause eye problems in children. In these cases, our pediatric ophthalmologists collaborate with multi-disciplinary Nemours teams who treat children with genetic syndromes.

If your child is healthy and has no known risk factors for pediatric eye problems, then age-appropriate screening examinations with your primary care provider should be sufficient. If further evaluations are indicated, your child can be referred to our ophthalmologists as needed.

A to Z: Impacted Cerumen

A to Z: Impacted Cerumen

May also be called: Ear Impaction; Ear Blockage; Earwax Blockage; Impacted Earwax; Cerumen Inspissatum

Impacted cerumen (se-ROO-men) is when earwax (cerumen) builds up in the ear and blocks the ear canal; it can cause temporary hearing loss and ear pain.

More to Know

Earwax is produced by glands in the ear canal, which leads from the outer ear to the eardrum. Earwax helps protect the ear by trapping dust and other foreign particles that could damage the ear. Normally, earwax moves toward the opening of the ear and falls out or is washed away, but some people's ears produce too much wax. The extra wax can build up and harden in the ear canal and become difficult to remove. Earwax also can become impacted when, during ear cleaning, the wax is accidentally pushed deeper into the ear canal.

Impacted cerumen can cause earaches, temporary hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), coughing, or a feeling that the ear is full or plugged. It also can increase the risk of an outer ear infection. Impacted cerumen should be removed by a doctor to help avoid damaging the ear. Treatment options include removing the earwax with instruments or by flushing the ear canal with special liquids.

Keep in Mind

Impacted cerumen may improve on its own, but treatment by a doctor is generally safe and effective. Hearing usually returns completely after the impacted earwax is removed. Trying to remove impacted cerumen at home with a cotton swab or by ear candling is not recommended.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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Date reviewed: September 26, 2016