The retina is crucial to your child’s central vision. Located at the back of the eye, this thin, light-sensitive layer of tissue sends visual signals between the eyes and brain. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is one of the few facilities in the United States with a dedicated pediatric eye care team. We treat children from birth to adolescence — a time when vision is key to your child’s emotional, physical and social development.
Why Children Need a Pediatric Eye Doctor
Eye care is not one size fits all. Children cannot always describe their symptoms and may not have the patience to go through a regular eye exam. They need eye specialists with the training, experience and talent to care for the youngest of patients. Our team of pediatric ophthalmologists and surgeons detects and treats childhood eye conditions to give your child the best possible vision for life.
Your pediatrician should examine your child’s eyes during the first year of life. If you or your pediatrician suspect anything unusual or if you have a family history of eye disease, your child needs to see an ophthalmologist. All children, even those whose vision appears normal, need a complete eye exam by their fourth birthday and every two years thereafter. The best way to protect or restore your child’s vision is through accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
Some babies and children develop retinal conditions from genetic disorders or eye injuries. We treat children’s retinal problems, including those listed below.
Detachments occur when the retina pulls away from its normal position. In children, this can happen for reasons including:
- Traumatic eye injury
- Complications following eye surgery, especially cataract surgery
- Family history of detached retinas
- Severe nearsightedness
- Prior detachment in one eye
- Prior eye disease or inflammation
Symptoms of this condition may include:
- Sudden flashes of light or floaters – dark spots drifting across the line of vision
- Blurred vision
- Increasingly worse side vision
- Curtain-like shadow over the visual field
The longer a detachment goes undiagnosed, the higher the risk of permanent vision loss. Each of our five locations has a team of retinal specialists and operating rooms available to treat eye emergencies 24/7, throughout the week.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
ROP affects retinal blood vessels in premature or low birth weight babies. It can cause retinal detachments and blindness if left untreated.
Although rare, this cancerous tumor is the most common eye cancer in children and the third most common cancer affecting children. It damages light-sensitive cells in the retina that allow the eyes to see.
If your child has a retinal condition, you need highly skilled physicians and the latest treatments to protect their vision. You need the kind of care provided by Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Retinal Examination - As part of a thorough eye exam, your child’s physician may use an ophthalmoscope’s bright light and special lens to view the retina. This gives the physician a very detailed view of any retinal problems.
Ultrasound Imaging - If bleeding is present inside the eye, the doctor may use ultrasound imaging to detect any abnormalities in the retina.
Pneumatic Retinopexy - In this method, the surgeon injects a gas or air bubble into the center of the eye. The bubble presses the retinal hole against the wall of the eye, preventing intraocular fluid from leaking behind the retina. Any retinal holes or tears are also sealed with laser coagulation (heat) or cryoplexy (freezing). Both methods prevent fluid from leaking under the retina. Over time, any remaining fluid under the retina and the bubble reabsorb and the retina reattaches to the eye wall.
Scleral Buckle - In this procedure, the surgeon sews a thin silicone band to the white (sclera) part of the eye. The buckle makes an indentation in the wall of the eye. This reduces pressure caused by the vitreous (a gel-like substance inside the eye) and keeps it from pulling on the retina. If there are several retinal holes, tears or a severe detachment, the surgeon may surround the entire eye with a scleral buckle. The buckle is invisible and positioned so it does not interfere with vision.
Vitrectomy - A vitrectomy removes the vitreous fluid and tissue tugging on the retina. To keep the retina in place, air, gas or silicone oil is then inserted into the vitreous area. Over time, this reabsorbs and the vitreous space refills with natural fluid. In some patients, a vitrectomy is combined with a scleral buckle.
Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?
The Nation’s Leading Eye Care Facility. When you have renowned doctors, advanced treatments and pioneering research in one Institute, you achieve excellence. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Bascom Palmer # 1 in the nation for eye care on 16 occasions.
Dedicated Pediatric Eye Care. Few U.S. facilities except Bascom Palmer have a dedicated team of pediatric eye specialists and support staff. Each year, we treat nearly 7,000 children in our William and Norma Horvitz Children’s Center. We are a major referral center for children needing vision care in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. Our Samuel & Ethel Balkan International Pediatric Glaucoma Center is the world’s first facility with a multi-specialty approach to diagnosing and treating this childhood disease.
Trusted Specialists. Physicians travel here from across the country and the world to train with our ophthalmologists. Worldwide, our doctors lecture on pediatric ophthalmology and many develop promising treatments for children through research. With doctors representing every sub-specialty of eye care, we offer comprehensive solutions for every eye condition.
Child- and Family-Friendly Support. Our main Miami campus features a child-friendly waiting area, with toys, games and child-size furniture. Exam rooms are designed for children, with bright, cheerful décor and movies to keep kids happy. At each of our five locations, pediatric eye care teams guide you through diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. If your child has a chronic vision disease or disorder, our team coordinates care and support services, including education, vision rehabilitation and resources to help you manage your child’s condition.
Pediatric Surgical Care. If your infant or child needs eye surgery, they are in good hands. Our pediatric surgeons work with specially trained pediatric anesthesiologists to ensure your child’s safety and comfort. Equipped with advanced technology, our operating rooms accommodate every eye surgery, from the common to complex.
Pioneering Research. Our patients have gained early access to the most advanced diagnostics and therapies for pediatric ocular disorders, retinal detachment and vitreoretinal diseases. In fact, our physician-researchers established predictive tests and new treatment for retinal detachments.