Pediatric Retinal Disorders

Retinal disorders in children are different than those in adults. The pediatric ophthalmologists at Children's National Health System are experts at identifying ophthalmic disorders in children. They are familiar with the retinal manifestations of systemic diseases in children and work closely with their colleagues at Children's National and in the community. In addition, retina specialists, with interest in children's eye diseases, are on the hospital staff and help provide medical and surgical retina care when needed.

Children's National physicians diagnose and treat:

  • retinopathy of prematurity
  • Coats’ disease
  • uveitis
  • sickle cell disease
  • retinoblastoma
  • hemangioma
  • infectious retinal diseases
  • sensory retinal disorders (i.e. achromatopsia, Leber congenital amaurosis)
  • degenerative retinal disorders (i.e. juvenile retinoschisis)
  • congenital malformations of the optic nerve and retina (i.e. coloboma or optic nerve hypoplasia)
  • trauma to the eye including retinal detachment
  • retinal disorders that diagnose systemic disease (i.e. Aicardi syndrome)

Patients are evaluated at Children's National for retinal disorders. Children who need urgent surgical retinal care are referred immediately to pediatric retina specialists on the staff. Once a month, a retina specialist holds a medical retina clinic at Children's National's Eye Clinic.

What is a retinal disorder?

A retinal disorder occurs when the retina malfunctions. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue on the inside and back of the eye. Vision originates in the retina, which contains photoreceptor cells that convert light into electrical impulses. These impulses are the visual information or "pictures" that travel to the brain via the optic nerve. Most retinal disorders involve a disruption in the transmission of these impulses.

There are many kinds of retinal disorders, with a wide variety of causes and symptoms.

What are the symptoms of retinal disorders?

Symptoms include:

  • a white pupil
  • a loss or partial loss of vision
  • night blindness
  • a shower of black floaters in vision
  • sudden, persistent flashing lights
  • an intolerance of light

How are retinal disorders diagnosed?

To diagnose retinal disorders, a full ophthalmologic examination is required, with the retina dilated for evaluation. Other tests may include:

  • Ultrasound of the Eye
  • Visual Fields (Goldmann or Humphrey)
  • CT Scan of the Orbit
  • Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT)
  • Electroretinogram (ERG)
  • Retinal Photography


The treatment of retinal disorders varies widely, depending on the type of disease.Children's National's pediatric ophthalmologists are experts in identifying ophthalmic disorders in children. They are familiar with the retinal manifestations of systemic diseases in children, and evaluate and treat common, as well as extremely rare, disorders of the eye. Children's National's team of surgeons provides the best trauma and retina care in the region.

Meet the Team

All Pediatric Ophthalmology Team members help assess, refer, and manage these cases of retinal disorders.

The retina specialists on staff at Children’s National evaluate potential surgical cases.


For appointments: Call 202-476-3015

Children's Team

Children's Team


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Primary Care



Our specialized pediatric ophthalmologists are experts at recognizing and treating complex eye conditions in infants and children.