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Infants Can Be Born with an Eye Disease

When we think of eye diseases, we often think of older people. But infants and children can have eye diseases, also. To prevent vision loss or blindness, these diseases need to be diagnosed and treated early.

Not all eye diseases are obvious just by looking at the child. Often, children will not realize they have a vision problem. They assume everyone sees the way they do. Some children may realize that they have problems seeing, but won't know how to describe what they see to others.

While eye disease is uncommon in children, it is more likely to occur if:

  • The child weighed less than 2 pounds at birth
  • Eye disease runs in the family.

Childhood Eye Diseases

If a child has one of the problems listed below, he or she should have an eye exam by an eye doctor as soon as possible. No infant or child is too young to have an eye exam.

  • A white pupil 
  • A lump, swelling or drooping of the eyelid 
  • The clear outside layer of the eye (cornea) is large in one or both eyes (the eye will look unusually big)
  • One or both eyes look in or out 
  • There is tearing, discharge or redness of the eyes 
  • The eyes seem to jiggle or rotate 
  • One pupil (the black center of the eye) is larger than the other 
  • The baby or child almost always tilts his head to look at things 
  • Part of the iris (the colored ring of the eye) is missing 


The sooner an eye disease is treated, the better. Early treatment can prevent vision loss. In some cases, if the disease is not treated, the child could lose his or her ability to see.

Treatment for eye diseases could include one or more of the following:

  • Medications 
  • Surgery 
  • Eye patches or exercises 
Click to Learn More!

For more information about eye diseases, check out: 

Eye Diseases at, click on topics and then click on pediatrics.
Eye Health under Diseases at Medical Library at

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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12