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Overview of Eye Disorders in Children

by Christopher Fecarotta, MD, Wendy W. Huang, MD, PhD

Disorders that most often blur vision, such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, occur in children and sometimes require treatment to prevent amblyopia (a decrease in vision that becomes permanent after age 8 if not treated). Amblyopia affects about 2 to 3% of children and usually develops before age 2. Misalignment of the eyes (strabismus) occurs in about 3% of children and can also cause loss of vision due to amblyopia. Congenital cataracts and primary infantile glaucoma are rare disorders that can affect newborns and young children.

Primary care doctors should screen children at the earliest possible age for strabismus and poor vision. Eye doctors should screen for visual problems by age 3, and regular follow-ups in school-age children may be necessary.

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