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A Better View

Ask any parent about what they want most for their children and the response will likely revolve around seeing them grow up to live long lives full of happiness and good health. And while looking into their little one’s eyes can elicit instant feelings of joy, sometimes it’s what they don’t see that can be a cause for serious concern.

A young child’s vision plays an integral role in their ability to learn and develop, but because their eyes are still forming, they can also be vulnerable to disease. Undiagnosed and untreated, those problems can manifest and become much more complicated issues to combat. However, with the help of regular screenings and trusted eye care professionals, many problems can be detected early enough to restore healthy vision.

Few understand the importance of proper pediatric retinal eye health better than the team of expert doctors at Florida Retina Institute. For more than four decades, the practice has been providing groundbreaking care for a wide range of issues affecting the eyes, and it continues to treat patients of all ages at 10 locations throughout Central Florida. What’s more, the practice places an emphasis on continuing education so doctors stay abreast of the latest medical and surgical enhancements used to treat any number of conditions.

When speaking with Dr. Alexander C. Barnes, a board-certified, fellowship-trained vitreoretinal specialist at Florida Retina Institute, he stresses the importance of pediatric eye examinations at a young age. “This is a critical period during development when the nerve pathways between the eye and brain are stimulated. If there is an underlying condition that is not appropriately treated during this period, the eye may not be appropriately stimulated and as such these important connections between the eye and brain are not formed and the eye will not see as well,” he says.

Touting recent advancements in the field and cutting-edge treatments now being utilized, Dr. Barnes says providers are discovering new and effective avenues for patient care. One such condition benefitting from these breakthroughs is Coats disease, a vascular disorder in which the patient develops leaking blood vessels. The disease can be hard to detect initially, making things further challenging.

“It is true that certain conditions may not present with pain and in their early stages may not affect the central vision until much later,” says Dr. Barnes. “This emphasizes the importance of routine eye screening to detect conditions that may initially be asymptomatic.”

While presenting symptoms may be tough to spot, one warning sign would be if your child has a white reflex in their pupil. Typically, when light passes through the pupil and it is reflected back through the retina, there is a red reflex—just think about all those photographs you’ve taken over the years when the flash turns everyone’s eyes red.

Another thing parents should be wary of is if their child is having sudden difficulty reading or frequently bumping into things.

“Because children in many cases are not able to communicate if they are having difficulties with their vision, it is important for families to be aware that poor vision may manifest in different ways at home and schools, such as changes in behavior, even posturing,” says Dr. Barnes.

Similar to other retinal conditions, Dr. Barnes says there are a variety of possible treatments—and in many cases, a combination of treatments—used to manage a patient dealing with Coats disease. And as is often the case, early detection helps improve the chances for a favorable outcome.

“Laser and sometimes injections of medication into the eye are common medical treatments to treat Coats disease. In very advanced cases, surgery may even be indicated,” he says.

Thankfully, when surgical intervention is needed, new technology pertaining to the eyes now allows for faster, safer surgeries with a much lower complication risk and shorter recuperation period.

“Surgical instrumentation advancements over the past several decades have made both pediatric and adult retinal conditions more manageable,” Dr. Barnes affirms.

Along with his colleagues at Florida Retina Institute, Dr. Barnes is excited by these advancements and says the practice’s commitment to providing high-quality personalized care allows patients—some as young as a few months old—and their loved ones to feel safe and secure the minute they enter the office.

“New medicines are gaining FDA approval, which may provide treatment for diseases that did not previously have one, or may provide an extended duration of effect that can decrease the treatment burden to patients,” Dr. Barnes says. “We are in an exciting time.

Florida Retina Institute

Multiple locations in Central Florida including Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary and Clermont

(407) 849-9621