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Contact Lenses Often Prescribed For Infants With Serious Eye Problems
Date:12/27/2009

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Infants as young as one-month-old are prescribed contact lenses at pediatric eye surgery centers so their visual system will develop correctly. Infants may be fitted for contacts if they have had cataract surgery, need extremely high-strength prescription glasses, or have very different prescriptions for the two eyes.

According to Dr. Natalia Uribe, who directs the Contact Lens Program in The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, "The brain's visual system is not fully mature until about age eight. It is critical that infants and very young children with eye problems have their sight corrected so the visual pathway develops properly. Otherwise it may not be possible for them to enjoy normal vision as an adult."

Dr. Uribe, an optometrist, said her clinic is growing and will treat more than 700 young patients this year, making it one of the largest centers in the nation. She said more infants are being diagnosed with major eye problems due to better screening and to the higher rate of survival among extremely preterm infants.

Premature infants are at risk for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease affecting the blood vessels feeding the retina and for other eye problems. Medical studies have shown that approximately 20 percent of all premature babies will develop some form of strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye) or serious refractive error (require glasses) by the time they are 3 years of age.

According to Dr. Uribe, "Many of the children I see have a medical condition that affects only one eye. Wearing glasses with one thick lens and one clear lens will not work on very young children. A properly fitted contact lens can produce near-normal vision -- the images are the same size, clear and focused, and input equally from both eyes--spurring proper brain development."

For example, if an infant is born with a congenital catara
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SOURCE Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
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