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Common Pediatric Eye Problems

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Caring for your child’s eyes is always important, but especially during their early years, when their growing eyes are rapidly developing. Catching eye problems in their tracks can help minimize potential damage and may even make it possible to reverse the condition.

That’s why it’s important for parents to know about the most common pediatric eye problems and their symptoms.

Refractive Errors

The 3 most common refractive errors found in children are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (irregularly curved cornea). These conditions prevent light from focusing on the correct area of the retina, causing blurred vision.

Signs to watch for:

  • Eye strain or headache after a child performs visually demanding activities
  • Frequent squinting or head tilting
  • Sitting very close to the television or computer
  • Holding books or screens very close to the face


Also known as lazy eye, amblyopia occurs when one eye doesn’t achieve normal visual acuity and is weaker than the other. Amblyopia is often difficult to detect, since the child will often rely on their fully functioning eye and may even be unaware of the problem. Early detection is crucial because amblyopia can lead to vision loss. Furthermore, once a child is 8-10 years old, it becomes much harder to correct.

Signs to watch for:

  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Squinting
  • Frequently closing one eye
  • Head tilting
  • Difficulty reading/doing math/playing sports
  • Difficulty with attention and focus


Nystagmus is characterized by rapid, involuntary, back-and-forth eye movements that can either be congenital or acquired. Congenital nystagmus usually sets in within the first months of life, and acquired nystagmus develops after 6 months of age. Nystagmus can accompany a multitude of other eye problems, so be sure to bring your child to an eye doctor if they show any symptoms.

Signs to watch for: Eyes that rapidly and repetitively move from side to side, up and down, or in a circle.

Pediatric Cataracts

Cataracts don’t just affect adults — an estimated 20,000-40,000 children are born with cataracts each year worldwide. Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s normally clear lens in one or both eyes. Depending on the location and severity of the cataract, it can impair vision.

Signs to watch for:

  • Difficulty seeing objects and recognizing faces
  • Eyes that point in different directions
  • Nystagmus
  • White- or gray-colored pupil


Strabismus is the medical term for when the eyes are misaligned or “crossed.” Left untreated, strabismus can lead to amblyopia and result in permanent vision loss.

Signs to watch for:

  • An eye that points upward, downward, inward, or outward
  • Head tilting, in an effort to align the eyes
  • Frequent and excessive squinting, especially in bright light

How We Can Help

At James Tracey Eye Care, we provide comprehensive eye exams and other eye care services to detect and potentially prevent eye problems for all members of the family.

When it comes to pediatric eye problems, early detection and treatment usually means a better outcome. If you suspect that your child has a vision problem, or to schedule a routine pediatric eye exam, call James Tracey Eye Care in Midtown today!

At James Tracey Eye Care, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 646-916-4588 or book an appointment online to see one of our Midtown eye doctors.

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