Untended wandering eye might lead to vision problem


November 13, 1990|By Dr. Modena Wilsonand Dr. Alain Joffe

Q: Most of the time our 2-year-old's eyes are perfectly straight, but sometimes one eye seems to wander. What causes this? Our pediatrician has never mentioned anything wrong with our daughter's eyes.

A: What you are noticing may be very important even if your FTC pediatrician hasn't noticed it. Usually, parents are the first to notice eye problems because it may be obvious only when a child is tired.

Ask your pediatrician to refer you right away to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who is good with children. The vision in one of your daughter's eyes or muscles that control its movements may be weak.

If her eyes are not lined up, she will get a blurry image. Her brain will blot out the picture from the problem eye to maintain clarity. If the situation continues, the brain will lose its ability to accept messages from that eye and she will lose the potential for good vision from it.

Your daughter is young enough to receive effective treatment for thiscondition, called amblyopia. But the only way to know if she needs it is to see an ophthalmologist.

Q: What's the very best way to treat a child's mild burn? My mother used butter, but my husband has used a baking soda slurry. Should I just buy something at the drugstore to have on hand?

A: The best emergency medicine for a mild burn is cool water. Applying anything thick or greasy to the burn may hold in the heat. Running cool water over the burned area immediately eliminates the heat and keeps the damage contained. The next step is to pat the burned skin dry gently with a clean cloth and cover it loosely with a bandage to keep off dirt, particularly if the skin is blistered. Gently wash the burned area with soap and water daily. If the burn covers a large area of skin (larger than your child's palm); or is so deep it doesn't hurt at all; if blistering burns involve the face, neck, hands, nipples or genitals; or if a burn does not heal, call your doctor or an emergency room.

*Dr. Wilson is director of pediatric primary care of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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