Craig Blackwell, MD

Santa Cruz, CA
Diplomate: American Board of Ophthalmology
Fellow: American Academy of Ophthalmology

Welcome to the Website of Craig Blackwell, MD

An Ophthalmology Practice in Santa Cruz, CA

Child’s Eye Exam

Early pediatric exams are important to assure:

  • basic vision function
  • correct alignment
  • the clarity of the media (Cornea, Lens, Vitreous)
  • health of the retina

Follow-up at regular intervals is important through the years of development to catch any detours as early as possible.

Testing for ocular alignment is especially important in children and is closely linked with vision problems so we will treat the two together here.

Common terms for children’s eye problems:

  • Strabismus” is the term for misalignment, usually with the one eye turning either inward or outward, but they can also go upward.
  • Amblyopia” or “Lazy Eye,” is the term for reduced vision in a physically normal eye. Lazy eye does not refer to the misalignment, rather it refers to the reduced vision.

The first decade of life is important in the vision system because the cells in the vision part of the brain (visual cortex) are growing. They require constant stimulation by a sharp image from each eye for good vision and for the development of fusion and depth perception.

The three causes of amblyopia, “lazy eye”:

Anything that reduces the quality of the image reaching brain will reduce or retard development of the visual cortex.

  • Congenital cataract, for instance, makes a clouded image that severely slows brain cell development. When this is detected surgery is done in the first few months of life.
  • Misalignment. If the brain is presented with two different images then it chooses one and ignores the other. Can be caused by misaligned set point or significant farsightedness. Treatment is by glasses or surgery.
  • A significant difference in glasses prescription between the two eyes resulting in one eye which has a clear image and the other a blurred image will cause the brain will ignore the blurred image and cell development will slow. Treated by appropriate glasses.

    In amblyopia, once the primary cause is addressed then the second step is to work on improving vision by patching the strong eye thereby forcing the brain to use the weak eye. Once behind the weaker eye will not fully catch up to normal. Early and consistent treatment will usually improve vision.