Our Ophthalmology program provides complete, coordinated diagnosis and treatment of pediatric eye disorders. Our team of doctors and technologists specialize in providing high-level care for young patients in a family-friendly environment.

We use the latest technology to find, identify and treat a wide variety of eye disorders. We offer many medical and surgical treatment options for eye diseases that occur during childhood.

Seattle Children's is one of the few pediatric centers in the country that offers specialty testing for eye movement disorders and balance and gaze-holding problems. We have extensive experience using behavioral testing and other techniques to evaluate vision in babies and children who do not speak.

Conditions We Treat

We see infants and children with a variety of disorders that affect the eyes, including:

  • Many children are born with tear ducts that aren't completely developed. This problem can cause blocked tear ducts, infections and over-production of tears. Blocked tear ducts often clear up by themselves and require no treatment. If tear ducts become infected, call your child's doctor quickly because the infection can spread to other parts of the face. Signs of infection include redness, pus and swelling. Read more.

  • Eye movement disorders usually involve uncontrollable movements of the eye or eyes that are not able to focus properly. For example, your child’s eyes may cross in or drift out (strabismus), they may have decreased vision in one eye (lazy eye, or amblyopia) or they may have double vision. Our team includes an orthoptist who is specially trained to measure your child’s vision and eye movement issues. Our orthoptist works with our ophthalmologists or optometrist to diagnose and develop a plan for your child which may include eye muscle exercises, glasses for double vision, a temporary patch for the eye or other treatments for eye muscle issues.

  • Strabismus is a type of eye movement disorder in which a child's eyes look crossed. Strabismus is usually caused by an imbalance in the muscles that help the eyes stay straight and move together properly. Surgery on the eye muscles can help the eyes look straight. Children may have lasting vision loss in the less-used eye (amblyopia) if the condition is not treated in early childhood.

  • Some children are born with cataracts, which are a clouding of the eye's lenses. The clouding prevents images from being seen clearly or at all. In babies and young children, cataracts must be treated to prevent lasting problems with development of vision.

  • Children can have a wide range of eyelid problems. Some problems include swelling and redness (inflammation) and infection, tumors that may or may not be cancer, and problems with the structure of the eyelid itself. In most cases, eyelid disorders don't threaten a child's vision or life. But sometimes their symptoms can cause pain or discomfort. Less often, the disorders can be serious.

  • As in other parts of the body, tumors can form in the eyes when cells grow uncontrollably and form a lump of tissue. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or without cancer (benign). Retinoblastoma is a disease in which cancer cells form tumors in the tissues that line the inside of the back of the eye (retina). Although the disease can occur at any age, it usually shows up in children younger than 5 years.

  • Glaucoma is a disorder that causes fluid pressure to build up inside the eye. This can cause damage to the optic nerve. It can occur in infants and children, although it is much more common among older adults. Unless found early by routine screening tests, glaucoma usually goes undiagnosed until some vision is lost.

  • Vestibular balance disorders are problems that occur in the sensory system of the inner ear. This system works with eyesight to help people maintain their balance. Vestibular balance disorders can cause dizziness and imbalance, as well as nausea, anxiety, changes in hearing and other symptoms that can affect your child's daily life.

Services We Offer

Our Ophthalmology program offers tests to identify eye disorders in children, including:

  • An electroretinogram measures the electrical response of the cells in the eye that are sensitive to light (retina). The test helps doctors evaluate disorders of the retina. The retina is the lining in the eyeball that is sensitive to light. It transfers signals to the optic nerve, which sends them to the brain, where they are seen as images. An electroretinogram can help doctors decide whether surgery on the retina may help your child.

  • Oculomotor means eye movement. These tests measure how and when your child's eyes move in response to images, light, moving objects and head motion. Doctors compare your child's eye movement with that of other children of the same age to see if your child shows the usual response.

  • This test measures the electrical signals to the brain that happen when your child sees something. Simply put, the test records the amount of time it takes for these electrical signals to reach the brain. Doctors use visual evoked potential tests to check sight, especially in babies and young children.

  • Rotary chair testing helps doctors understand the cause of balance problems. The test measures eye movements as your child sits in a chair that moves in precise circular patterns. The doctor compares your child's eye movement with that of other children of the same age to see if your child shows the usual response. Rotary chair testing can help doctors find out how your child's visual and inner ear (vestibular) systems are working together.

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