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Children’s eye conditions

Page Contents

  • Eye Problems in Children
  • Lazy Eye in Children
  • Treatment for Lazy Eye in a Child
  • Chalazion in Children
  • Chalazion in Children Treatment
  • Corneal Abrasion in Children
  • Conjunctivitis in Children
  • Squint in Children
  • Watery Eye in Children
  • Why Choose Moorfields Private For Your Child’s Eye Treatment?

Eye Problems in Children

There are various different eye conditions and diseases which can affect babies and children. Some common eye problems in children include Lazy Eye (Amblyopia), squints (Strabismus), and Watery Eye (Nasolacrimal Duct Obstruction).

Early detection is key for successful treatment, which is why frequent eye tests for children are so important. If these tests detect any issues, they can be seen by a Moorfields Private consultant paediatric ophthalmologist. Initial appointments for children can take 60-90 minutes. You can find more information about some common eye conditions in children below.
Amblyopia, often known as ‘lazy eye’, is an early childhood eye disorder where the child’s vision does not develop properly. It usually occurs in one eye, but it can occur in both. Amblyopia affects approximately 2% of children.

Lazy Eye in Children

Most commonly, amblyopia occurs as the result of a squint (strabismic amblyopia) or because the two eyes have different refractive errors (anisometropic amblyopia). The latter can lead to poor vision in the absence of a noticeable squint and may not be detected unless vision is specifically tested during eye tests for children.
Treatment to improve the vision in an eye, which is lazy or amblyopic is usually effective until about 7 years of age and is a combination of glasses, patching or Atropine. A patch will cover the good or straight eye and will ensure that the child uses their poor eye and will allow the vision to improve. The patch is usually used with any glasses, which have been prescribed.

Treatment for Lazy Eye in a Child

The consultant will advise how many hours a day you will need to use the patch for your child. For the best results, use the patch when the child is carrying out detailed work such as reading, writing, drawing, jigsaws, computer games etc.

Wearing a patch is most effective at a young age. By the age of approximately 8, the eyes are fully developed and it becomes difficult to improve the vision. Atropine drops can be used to blur the sight in the better eye to encourage the weaker eye to work.

You can discover more about the symptoms and treatment of a lazy eye in children on our dedicated Amblyopia page.
A chalazion is a harmless cyst caused by a blocked meibomian gland in the eyelid. This can become irritated and red and, occasionally, infected. Lid cysts are common, especially in children. If children develop cysts repeatedly, they could have blepharitis, a long-term mild irritation of the edge of the eyelids.

Chalazion in Children

Most cysts disappear with time but can take weeks and sometimes many months, to go away. They are normally harmless and can be safely left to get better with time in most cases.
Warm compresses might speed up the disappearance of the chalazion cyst in children. Boil some water and let it cool a little, or use water from the hot tap. Water should be hot but not hot enough to burn. Soak cotton wool or a clean flannel in the water and gently press onto your child’s closed eyelids for two to three minutes at a time, twice daily.

Chalazion in Children Treatment

For further advice on how to clean the eyelids of children and babies, please watch our instructional video here:

Occasionally, the doctor will prescribe a short course of antibiotic ointment or drops to help any irritation and, if there is infection spreading from the cyst, antibiotics by mouth. However, medication does not cause the cysts to disappear. If there is a large cyst which remains for a long time, it is possible to perform surgery to remove it. In most cases, chalazion surgery in children is not medically necessary or recommended.

You can learn more on our dedicated Chalazion page here.

Corneal Abrasion in Children

A corneal abrasion is a scratch on the clear window on the front of the eye (the cornea). Abrasions are very painful because there are many nerves in this part of the eye. The eye is often watery, red and sensitive to light. It may be puffy and the vision may be blurry too.

Corneal Abrasion Treatment for Children

The abrasion will heal itself over 24-48 hours but it can take up to one week, and occasionally a little longer, for your child’s eye to feel and look completely better. It is important to prevent any infection whilst it is healing by using antibiotic drops or ointment for several days, which your eye doctor or nurse will prescribe.

Occasionally with big abrasions, other drops and an eyepatch are also needed. Painkillers suitable for children, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be taken if needed.

Visit our dedicated Corneal Abrasion page here to learn more about this eye injury in children.

Conjunctivitis in Children

Conjunctivitis is an infection in the membrane lining the eye and inside the eyelids, called the conjunctiva. The eye becomes red, sticky or watery, and can be itchy, sore and uncomfortable. The infection can affect one eye or both eyes.

Conjunctivitis in children can be caused by a virus (such as the common cold virus, the flu virus and many others) or, less often, by bacteria. Conjunctivitis is not normally serious and in many cases gets better on its own. Some people notice that they have a cold, sore throat or feel unwell at the same time.

Treating Conjunctivitis in Children

Most infections will clear up on their own. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics and the infection may last two to three weeks before the body’s natural immunity is able to clear the virus – just like when we have the flu. Clean any discharge/crusting away with a cotton pad and water. Antibiotic drops and/or lubricating drops may be prescribed for a short course. In a very small number of cases, in which there is a severe virus infection, anti-inflammatory steroid drops may be needed.

Virus infections are very contagious and spread by contact with infected tissues, towels, pillowcases and even door handles and also by droplet spread through sneezing and coughing. Washing hands frequently and not sharing towels/pillows is important to reduce the spread. Nurseries and schools may not allow a child with conjunctivitis to attend whilst they have an infection.

Squint in Children

Squint is the common name for ‘strabismus’ which is the medical term used to describe eyes that are not pointing in the same direction. It may also be referred to as a ‘cast’, ‘cross eye’ or ‘lazy eye’ in children. The squint may be present all or only part of the time, in only one eye or alternating between the two eyes.

Causes of a squint in children can include an eye muscle imbalance or refractive reasons (focusing abnormality). These can cause an eye squint in children together or separately. The condition can run in families or it can be a result of an injury to the eye. Rarely, it can be due to other diseases or illness.

Some babies may appear to have a squint that is not a true squint. It is called ‘epicanthus’ and is caused by folds of skin on a wide nose. Epicanthus does not exclude the possibility of a squint being present and so you should always seek an expert opinion.

Strabismus Treatment in Children

The treatment for lazy eye in a child includes prescribing glasses to manage the squint. Patching and Atropine drops, as well as exercises, can also be used to treat strabismus in children.

You can read more about how to recognise and treat a squint in children on our dedicated Strabismus page here.

Watery Eye in Children

Another common example of eye problems in children is watering eyes. The cause of watery eye in a small child is typically where the passage that carries the tears away from the eye into the nose (nasolacrimal duct) has not developed normally.

The symptoms usually are constant watering of one of both eyes and stickiness or discharge.

Watery Eye Treatment for Children

Normally 9 out of 10 children’s symptoms clear up by themselves by the age of 12 months. However, if a child has significant problems at the age of 12 months, then an operation to clear the blocked duct may be considered.

Visit our dedicated page on Watering Eyes here to learn more about this condition.

Why Choose Moorfields Private For Your Child’s Eye Treatment?

You can trust our paediatric ophthalmologists to deliver the best treatment for any eye problems in children. Moorfields Private has a worldwide reputation for delivering the highest quality of care, with all our consultants holding accredited positions at the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Additionally, your child will feel confident and cared for, as they will see the same consultant surgeon at every step of their care, from initial tests through to their treatment and follow-up check-ups. This means they will receive complete continuity and peace of mind.

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Children’s eye conditions consultants

A picture of Mr Lloyd Bender

Mr Lloyd Bender

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Ms Pari Shams

Ms Pari Shams

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor  Frank Larkin

Professor Frank Larkin

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr John Brookes

Mr John Brookes

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Harry Petrushkin

Mr Harry Petrushkin

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr David Verity

Mr David Verity

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Jimmy Uddin

Mr Jimmy Uddin

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Robert Henderson

Mr Robert Henderson

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Joanne Hancox

Miss Joanne Hancox

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Himanshu Patel

Mr Himanshu Patel

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Patrick Yu Wai Man

Professor Patrick Yu Wai Man

Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Professor Sir Peng Khaw

Professor Sir Peng Khaw

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Miss Lucy Barker

Miss Lucy Barker

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

No image of consultant provided

Mr David Bessant

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Yassir Abou–Rayyah

Mr Yassir Abou–Rayyah

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Daniel Ezra

Mr Daniel Ezra

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Professor Mariya Moosajee

Professor Mariya Moosajee

Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Professor Michel Michaelides

Professor Michel Michaelides

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of  Maria Theodorou

Maria Theodorou

Consultant Ophthalmologist

A picture of Mr Eric Ezra

Mr Eric Ezra

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Mr Ashwin Reddy

Mr Ashwin Reddy

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

A picture of Dr Annegret Dahlmann-Noor

Dr Annegret Dahlmann-Noor

Consultant Ophthalmologist


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Paying for treatment

Private Medical Insurance

If you are covered by private medical insurance, please verify the details with your insurer prior to arrival and if possible, obtain a pre-authorisation number.

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Self pay

You don’t have to be insured to come to Moorfields Private. Many of our patients pay for their own treatment.

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Interest free payment plans

We offer payment plans via a 3rd party provider for the majority of cases within the following procedures:

You are able to apply for interest free payment plans for over up to ten months, subject to a credit check and Terms and Conditions. No deposit is required.

For more information please speak to your consultant’s practice manager prior to your consultation.

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Third party sponsorship

​If a company, employer or other third party agrees to settle your account, they will be required to provide a letter of guarantee along with a deposit.

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