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A Closer Look

Every parent wants nothing more than for their children to grow up and live a long life full of happiness and good health. And while most will say just looking into their little one’s eyes can elicit tremendous joy, sometimes it’s what they don’t see that could be a cause for 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, these problems can manifest and become much more complicated issues to contend with. However, with the help of regular screenings and trusted eye care professionals, many problems can be detected early enough to restore healthy vision. 

For more than four decades, Florida Retina Institute 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 advancements used to treat any number of conditions. 

When speaking with Dr. Ruwan A. Silva, a board-certified, fellowship-trained vitreoretinal specialist at Florida Retina Institute, he stresses the importance of pediatric eye examinations.

“A baseline eye exam should take place in your pediatrician’s office as soon as the child is old enough to cooperate,” he says. “If they experience any abnormalities, that should trigger an eye exam [with a specialist] immediately.”

Dr. Silva touts the recent advancements in the field and cutting-edge treatments which are providing new avenues for patient care. One such condition that is benefiting from these breakthroughs is Coats disease, a vascular disorder in which the patient develops leaking blood vessels. The disease is quite rare and hard to detect initially, making it even more challenging. 

“When Coats disease occurs, the blood vessels form incorrectly and begin to leak fluid in the retina, causing a degradation of vision. Oftentimes, a child doesn’t complain because their vision is not blurry and there is no pain. It isn’t until months later when the parents see changes in the way the eyes look” that they suspect something may be amiss, Dr. Silva says. 

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 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 bulb turns everyone in the picture’s eyes red. 

Another thing parents should be wary of is if their “child is having sudden difficulty reading or frequently bumping into things, it’s a good idea to have their eyes examined,” Dr. Silva adds. 

The earlier Coats disease is diagnosed and treated, the sooner the leaking can be stopped and thus spare as much of a patient’s vision as possible. Left untreated, there could be irreparable damage done to the retina. 

Depending on the advanced stage of the disease, the skilled team at Florida Retina Institute treats Coats in four ways. This includes an injection of medication into the eye to help stabilize the blood vessels. If the disease exists in the far areas of the retina not used for vision, either laser or cryotherapy may be used to stop it from leaking completely. When things have progressed far enough along, the patient may require surgery to help save their vision.  

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. 

“The surgical advancements that have occurred in the past 10-20 years are phenomenal. We can perform surgeries less invasively, more quickly and with better outcomes,” Dr. Silva confirms. 

Along with his colleagues at Florida Retina Institute, Dr. Silva is excited by these breakthroughs 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.

“With this group of talented, energetic and ambitious physicians, we have the ability to bring the most advanced, cutting-edge technology to Central Florida to best serve our patients,” he says. “And with these advances come more options and more of a responsibility on physicians to optimize those treatments to the individual patients for whom they care.”


Florida Retina Institute

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

(407) 849-9621