Pediatric ophthalmology and orthoptics

The pediatrician’s routine examination includes an assessment of the child’s eyesight. The child is referred to an ophthalmologist for a more precise diagnosis and, possibly, therapy when the pediatrician diagnoses or suspects visual impairment or strabismus. In cases where one or both parents, or a sibling, are known to have a visual impairment or strabismus, the infant or baby should be sent directly to an ophthalmologist for precautionary assessment and care.

Orthoptics includes the diagnosis and treatment of squint (strabismus), lazy eye (amblyopia) and refractive error (ametropia).

Strabismus occurs in approximately 4% of the population. However, a propensity towards strabismus occurs more frequently. Strabismus can be inborn but can also occur during infancy or even in adulthood. Various disorders or subsequent damage can occur as a result of strabismus, depending on the time of onset and frequency of the affliction.

The detection of a so-called lazy eye (amblyopia), which is the consequence of an untreated refractive error or squint, is usually the primary concern during infancy and childhood.

The amblyopia is often treated with an eye patch. The healthier eye is temporarily covered so the weaker eye has a chance to self-adjust.

Roughly speaking, vision development takes place between birth and the 10th year. Possibilities for the treatment of amblyopia are limited after the culmination of this period. It is, therefore, essential to discover and treat disorders of visual development as early as possible.

In the case of older children and adults, ocular exertion can lead to temporary blurred vision, headaches or double vision. Orthoptic examination methods expose monocular and binocular vision disorders, which can then be treated by fitting special glasses or performing surgery on the eye muscles.

Eye muscle surgery is also performed in childhood and adulthood when a squint is considered conspicuous and distressing.