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Eye Problems in Children & How They're Treated

There are many different eye conditions and diseases that can affect a child's vision. If your pediatrician suspects an eye condition or if your child fails a vision screening, the doctor can refer you to a pediatric ophthalmologist for further evaluation and diagnosis.

Early detection and treatment is so important to avoid lifelong visual impairments. Below, see some of the more common eye disorders and eye diseases and how they may be treated.





An irregularly shaped cornea that can cause blurred vision.

Glasses if it causes blurred vision.

Blocked Tear Duct

In babies with this condition, also called nasolacrimal duct obstruction, the eyes overflow with tears and collect mucus.

Gentle massage of the tear duct can help relieve the blockage. If that doesn't work, a tear duct-probing procedure or surgery may be needed.


A clouding of the lens of the eye. About 3 out of 10,000 children have a cataract.

Most cataracts must be surgically removed. Cataracts in babies and children are rare and usually not related to cataracts in adults.


A firm, painless bump on the eyelid due to a blocked oil gland.

May resolve on its own or be treated with eye drops or warm compresses. In some cases, minor surgery may be needed.

Droopy eyelids (ptosis)

When the eyelids are not as open as they should be. This is caused by weakness in the muscle that opens the eyelid.

If severe, it can cause poor vision development (amblyopia) and needed eyelid surgery.

Falsely misaligned eyes (pseudostrabismus)

Caused by a wide nasal bridge or extra folds of skin between the nose and eye. The eyes only appear cross-eyed.

None. The eyes should be monitored to be sure they remain healthy.

Farsightedness (hypertopia)

Difficulty seeing close objects. A small degree of farsightedness is normal in babies and children.

If it becomes severe or causes the eyes to cross, glasses are needed.


A condition in which the pressure inside the eye is too high. Warning signs are extreme sensitivity to light, tearing, persistent pain, an enlarged eye, cloudy cornea and lid spasm.

Glaucoma in childhood usually needs surgery. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.

Lazy eye (amblyopia)

Reduced vision from lack of use in an otherwise normal eye. It's often caused by poor focusing or misaligned eyes.

Applying a patch or special eye drops to the "good" eye. Other treatments commonly include glasses or eye muscle surgery for misaligned eyes.

Misaligned eyes (strabismus)

When one eye turns inward, upward, downward or outward. This is caused by eye muscles that do not work well together.

Glasses, patches or surgery, depending on the cause for the misalignment.

Nearsightedness (myopia)

Difficulty seeing faraway objects. Nearsightedness is very rare in babies but becomes more common in school-aged children.

Glasses are used to correct blurred distance vision. Once nearsighted, children do not usually outgrow the condition. Contacts may be worn when old enough.

Pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

A reddening of the white part of the eye, usually due to infections, allergies or irritation. Signs include tearing, discharge and feeling that there's something in the eye.

Depending on its cause, pinkeye is often treated with eye drops or ointment. Frequent hand washing can limit the spread of eye infections to other family members and classmates.

Scratched cornea (corneal abrasion)

A scratch on the front surface of the eye (the cornea). It can be very painful. The eyes usually tear and are also sensitive to the light.

Antibiotic drops or ointment to promote healing and prevent infection.

Sty (hordeolum)

A painful red bump on the eyelid due to an infected oil or sweat gland.

Warm compresses and antibiotic drops or ointment.

Swollen eyelids (blepharitis)

An inflammation in the oily glands of the eyelid. This usually results in swollen eyelids and crusting of the eyelashes.

Warm compresses and washing the eyelids with baby shampoo. Antibiotics may be needed if there's an infection.

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends eye exams for all children beginning in the newborn period and at all well-child visits. See the AAP policy statement, Visual System Assessment in Infants, Children, and Young Adults by Pediatricians, and the AAP clinical report, Procedures for the Evaluation of the Visual System by Pediatricians, for more information.

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Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Ophthalmology (Copyright © 2022)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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