Pediatric Retinal Diseases

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) is among the most experienced centers in the region for evaluating and treating retinal diseases that can affect children of any age.  As a large teaching and referral center, we routinely handle a wide range of cases, from retinal detachments to severe eye trauma to inherited and acquired congenital disorders. Since children with retinal problems tend to have multiple eye conditions, we are equipped to treat each through teams of sub-specialists whose collaborative efforts are geared to maximizing outcomes while minimizing the number of procedures young patients must undergo.

Our advanced Retinal Imaging Center is a crucial part of that process. The center uses the latest technologies to produce high-resolution images of the many types of abnormalities, dystrophies, and changes that can impact the fragile retinas of children.

Our team of specialists is highly skilled in treating pediatric retinal conditions, including the following:

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Premature babies are born without fully developed (vascularized) retinas, which can lead to retinal detachment and blindness if not properly detected and treated. The smaller the baby is at birth, the more likely he or she will develop what’s known as retinopathy of prematurity. ROP usually occurs in both eyes and can open the door to a host of other ocular problems later in life, including severe myopia, strabismus (crossed eyes), glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachments. For that reason, children with ROP should be continuously monitored by an eye care professional. Premature babies are carefully screened today in hospital nurseries for ROP. Fortunately, when the condition is detected, the vast majority is not considered severe enough to require treatment. In the most advanced cases, laser therapy is used to repair the detached retina. Some children may be given an anti-VEGF (for vascular endothelial growth factor) injection in the eye. These agents decrease inflammation and the growth of abnormal blood vessels in and around the retina. 

Pediatric Retinal Trauma

Children are particularly vulnerable to eye trauma through sports, accidents, and roughhousing or fighting. This can lead to retinal detachment, retinal tears, and bleeding in the vitreous humor (the clear gel that fills the eyeball). New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) has years of experience handling these cases—including the most serious ones—through its role as the first ocular trauma center for the New York metropolitan area.

Inherited and Congenital Retinal Disorders

There are literally hundreds of inherited and congenital syndromes and dystrophies that can lead to retinal problems in children. Our specialists most commonly treat the following disorders:

  • Retinitis pigmentosa: A group of inherited disorders that affects the retina’s ability to respond to light, and which can result in a slow loss of vision
  • Stargardt disease: The most common form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration characterized by gradual vision loss from the death of cells in the central part of the retina
  • Leber congenital amaurosis: An inherited retinal degenerative disease marked by severely reduced vision at birth
  • Retinoschisis: A genetic condition where the retina splits into layers, resulting in diminished central and peripheral vision
  • Persistent fetal vasculature syndrome: A pre-birth developmental abnormality of the eyes which results in blurry vision and susceptibility to other eye diseases

Treatment of inherited and congenital retinal disorders typically involves continuous monitoring and therapeutic steps to preserve as much of the child’s vision as possible. NYEE offers state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging, along with collaborative, multi-specialist teams prepared to help children and their parents treat and manage the many types of inherited syndromes and dystrophies.

Pediatric Retinal Tumors

Though extremely rare, cancerous and non-cancerous retinal tumors can occur in young children. Retinoblastoma is the most common type of pediatric tumor we see. These growths, which affect one or both eyes, can be successfully treated if diagnosed early. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary not only has years of experience diagnosing and detecting retinoblastomas, but works closely with our pediatric oncology colleagues and other system specialists at Mount Sinai Health System to aggressively treat and monitor children with this condition.