Pediatric Ophthalmology Programs

The Division of Ophthalmology has developed comprehensive approaches to care for certain eye conditions. Browse our list of programs to learn more about our experts’ approaches to treatment.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disease of abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina of premature babies. The retina is the light-sensitive, nerve tissue in the back of the eye that allows us to see. There is a wide spectrum of ROP severity, and thus, it is important to get appropriate screening and counseling from a trained pediatric ophthalmologist.

Our team works closely with the neonatologists in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to provide regular eye exams and treatment when necessary. This treatment may include laser surgery or cryotherapy (i.e., freezing) to scar the abnormal peripheral retina or intravitreal injections of medicine into the eye to help regulate the retinal blood vessel growth. In more severe cases, vitreoretinal surgery (operating within the back of the eye) may be recommended and would be performed by vitreoretinal surgeons who are affiliated with Lurie Children’s.

Whether or not early treatment is necessary in the care of your child’s ROP, our team provides continued specialized care to monitor for associated problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye), refractive errors (e.g., myopia) and strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), which may warrant appropriate therapy including patching, glasses and eye muscle surgery to maximize your child’s vision potential.

 

Neurofibromatosis

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic disorder that has a higher risk of tumor formation (e.g., optic nerve glioma). Our specialists work closely with the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects and Metabolism in a comprehensive program that involves a full eye exam, imaging and sensory testing to assist in both the diagnosis and evaluation of NF and its tumor-related complications.

We provide continued care for vision-related problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye), refractive errors and strabismus (misalignment of the eyes) that may result from the disorder or its treatment.

Chronic Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome (DES) can result in a spectrum of problems, ranging from mild irritating symptoms to significant damage of the eye surface and vision loss. It is a disorder that may found on its own or be associated with systemic issues such as autoimmune disease (e.g., Sjögren’s syndrome), graft-versus-host disease (i.e., complications of stem cell or bone marrow transplants) or neuromuscular disease (e.g., poor blinking from problems that affect eyelid closure).

Our specialists provide a comprehensive approach to examining and treating the ocular surface. Therapy may be comprised of lubricating eye drops/ointments or procedures to improve the presence of tears on the eye surface. Additionally, our division provides expert care from specialists trained in oculoplastic and corneal surgery who will work toward improving the health of your child’s ocular surface and rehabilitating vision.

Retinoblastoma

Retinoblastoma (RB) is a tumor of the retina (i.e., the light-sensitive nerve tissue in the back of the eye that allows us to see) and is the most common malignant eye tumor in children. Untreated, it can lead to vision loss and death.

A thorough assessment, which may necessitate an examination under anesthesia and imaging of the eye and brain, is crucial in the diagnosis of RB. Depending on the nature of the disease, treatment may be localized through laser surgery or cryotherapy (i.e., freezing) and/or involve broader approaches such as chemotherapy. Severe cases may even require surgical removal of the eye to properly diagnose, stage and treat the RB with the assistance of our ocular pathology team.

Our specialists work closely with the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation and the Department of Medical Imaging to provide counseling and management. Our division will also provide continued care in the assessment and maximization of vision potential, including connecting our patients with nearby practitioners skilled in ocular prosthetics as necessary.

 

Cataracts

Cataracts are opacities of the lens inside the eye. The lens sits just behind the pupil and is responsible for focusing the light that enters the eye through the pupil so that a clear image is obtained for vision. Although a much more common occurrence in older age, cataracts can be a visually significant problem in children, as well.

Our specialists evaluate and treat a wide spectrum of pediatric cataracts that can be due to hereditary factors, genetic syndromes, congenital infections, trauma, inflammatory conditions and medications. Treatment options may include glasses, contact lenses, medicated drops and/or surgery. If surgery is necessary, we remove the cataract with the possible placement of a synthetic intraocular lens (IOL) at the time of the initial surgery or at a later date.

We work towards optimizing the vision potential in a safe and effective manner and monitor closely for potential complications. Our division also closely works with affiliated practitioners who subspecialize in retina, cornea and glaucoma to provide well-rounded, comprehensive care.