A cataract is an area of the eye’s lens that is murky or cloudy, often leading vision impairment of the eye in which it is present ranging from somewhat obscured to a total loss of vision. Whilst cataracts are predominant in adults, they can also occur in children or newborns. Whilst this is uncommon, it is important to keep an eye open to the possible signs of cataracts in your child and/or children’s eyes to ensure early detection.
Early detection is essential as cataracts in newborns should, ideally, be removed as soon as possible to allow clear retinal vision – this may mean cataracts surgery in the first few weeks of an infant’s life.
So how can you tell if your child has congenital cataracts?
Cataracts can be either bilateral or unilateral and they can vary in shape, size and density of blurriness. The level of impairment on vision, required treatment and prognosis therefore vary greatly.
The first step in ensuring cataracts do not go undetected in infants is regular checkups. It is suggested that routine eye examinations are performed on babies at birth and at six to eight weeks of age.
It can be difficult detecting cataracts in newborns, as mild cataracts are typically asymptomatic in children, which can result in a delayed diagnosis. However, signs that may present themselves in infants include a lack of reaction to light, a deferred maturation, photophobia in bright lights and/or a lack of observance of toys and/or faces. Denser cataracts can be detected if they cause sensory nystagmus (in which the eye involuntarily oscillates).
Cataracts surgery involves the removal of the cataract, followed by the restoration of focusing power through contact lenses (recommended for children under the age of two), intraocular lenses, or glasses.
For more information on cataracts in children or cataracts surgery, or to simply speak to a specialist on eye care, call Perfect Vision on 13 13 40, or head online to make an enquiry or book an appointment.