Pediatric Ophthalmology Consultants

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an Ophthalmologist?

A. An Ophthalmologist (Eye M.D) is a medical doctor with additional specialized training in all aspects of eye care, medical, surgical and optical.

Q. How is an Ophthalmologist different from an Optometrist and an Optician?

A. Ophthalmologists are different from optometrists and opticians in their training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses. Ophthalmologists complete four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship and three, at least of residency (hospital based training) in diagnosis and medical surgical treatment of eye disorders

Optometrist is a doctor of optometry, licensed to practice optometry. Optometrists determine the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses, prescribes optical correction and screens for abnormalities of the eye. In many states, optometrists can prescribe a limited number of drugs to help diagnose and treat certain eye conditions. Optometrists do not perform surgery. Optometrists attend two to four years of optometric college.

Optician licensed by a state to make optical aids, fits, adjusts and dispenses eyeglasses, contact lenses and other optical devices on written prescriptions of a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. Training for an optician varies from a preceptor- ship to two years of Opticianary School.

Q. How does an Ophthalmologist become certified?

A. After four years of medical education and training, an ophthalmologist must pass a rigorous two-part examination given by the American Board of Ophthalmology.

Q What is a sub specialist?

A. While all ophthalmologists specialize in eye problems and can treat all conditions, some decide to specialize in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. He or she usually completes a fellowship, which is one or two more years of training in the chosen area. Some sub specialists focus on the treatment of a disease such as glaucoma. Other sub specializes in a particular part of the eye such as the retina. Pediatric ophthalmologists sub specialize in treating eye disease in children.

Q. What is the “right” age for a first eye exam?

A. At any age, if there is a suspected problem. Otherwise, a general guideline is between three and four years of age.

Q. If a child appears to have normal vision, is the screening in kindergarten sufficient or should they see a medical professional?

A. Most vision screenings are designed to catch all the kids with vision problems, sometimes kids are referred because they were borderline or they were difficult to measure accurately. If there is any doubt in the parents or teachers the vision should be checked as part of there annual physical in the pediatricians office in all 3 to 5 year olds, besides the kindergarten screening.

Q. What are the warning signs of vision problems in children?


Constant rubbing of the eyes
Extreme light sensitivity
Poor ability to focus
Poor visual tracking (following objects)
Chronic redness of the eye
Persistent tearing
Difficulty reading or doing close-up work
Covering or closing one eye
Tilting the head to one side
Crossed eyes
White reflex on a photograph
Wiggly eyes
Droopy lid
Eye injuries with or without pain

Q. What happens during an eye examination?

A. Your ophthalmologist and his or her assistant ask about current symptoms and review your medical history; eye drops to dilate your child’s eyes may or may not be used during the exam.
The exam typically evaluates:

Visual acuity
Need for eyeglasses or contact lenses (refraction)
Eyelid health and function
Coordination of eye muscles
Pupil response to light
Side (peripheral) vision
Intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye)
The anterior segment in the eye
The interior and back of the eye

Q. Will my vision be blurry after my appointment? Does an eye exam hurt?

A.  A visit to a pediatric ophthalmologist is often said is the easiest visit of all other doctors. There is no pain involved, and we do not give any injections. We play games with the kids, watch movies. We usually dilate the pupils with drops and this will make the vision temporarily blurry. It will be difficult to read or drive for a few hours. The patient can go back to school, and do all other activities. A note may be given to the patient to take to school indicating temporary difficulty with reading assignments.

Q. Can reading in dim light hurt the eyes?

A.  Reading in dim light will not harm your eyes. It can make it a little more difficult to read, but it will not cause any damage to the eyes.

Q. Does eating carrots help see better?

A.  Unless you live in a third world country and the child is malnourished probably the answer is yes. But in developed countries people who eat a balanced diet get enough vitamin A, and eating extra carrots will not make a difference.

Q. How can the doctor effectively examine my two year old?

A.  Patience, and a few tricks of the trade. With special eye drops and equipment, the doctor can see into the eye and measure to see if your child needs glasses, even if they don’t talk or read.

Q. My child complains of headaches. Is this an eye problem?

A. Sometimes, a need for eyeglasses can cause headaches; there are a number of other conditions that can cause headaches. These types of complaints should first be addresses with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist if needed.

Q. My child sits very close to the TV. Is there something wrong with his/her eyes?

A.  Most children like to sit close to the TV because the picture is bigger the closer they get. Some of them may need glasses, but sitting close to the TV is not necessarily an indication of eye problems.

Q. I wear glasses. Does this mean my child will need eyeglasses?

A. Certain eye conditions can be hereditary. If there is a strong family history of any eye condition, early examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist is recommended.

Q. What is nearsightedness (”Myopia”)?

A.  Near things are seen with less effort than far things. Consider this eye too long. Images come into focus in front of the retina (the “seeing “part in the back of the eye). Glasses or contact lenses are usually worn to compensate for more than small amounts.

Q. What is farsightedness (“Hyperopia”)?

A.  Far away things are seen with less effort than near things. Consider this eye small. Small amounts of hyperopia are normal for infants, children and young adults. It is usually outgrown as they reach their twenties. Small amounts are overcome with focusing effort. This is automatic and requires no conscious effort. Spectacles correction may be needed for moderate or large amounts of hyperopia or for focus related crossing of the eyes (accommodative esotropia).

Q. What is astigmatism?

A.  This eye can be considered “out of round” (for example, consider the shape of the back side of a spoon). It is usually the result of unequal surface curves of the clear, front part of the eye called the cornea. Small amounts sometimes require glasses. Glasses or contact lenses are usually worn to correct the image blur.

Q. What is presbyopia?

A.  Far away things are seen clearly, but magnification is needed for near. This usually begins to occur in patients over 40 years. The eye is normal size and shape, with a “fatigued” near focus mechanism. It is the result of the loss of elasticity in the lens of the eye.

Q. What is anisometropia?

A.  When the focusing power is different between the two eyes it is called anisometropia. Small amounts may not require correction. Larger amounts may need correction to avoid amblyopia (lazy eye) in childhood and to avoid asthenopia (eye fatigue) at a later age.


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