Even though cataracts are rare in children, it does not mean they do not occur. In children, cataract is an important cause of visual impairment and blindness.
By Ashwin Dewan
A child may be born with cataracts dues to several factors such as genetics, infection during pregnancy, or low birth weight. But, what exactly is a cataract?
A cataract is a painless clouding of the lens of the eye similar to looking through a smudged window, which cannot be wiped clean. A cataract can be partial or complete but, in most cases, they are partial. A cataract often looks like a speckle, a crystal, stripes or plaques.
Childhood cataracts are often classified as genetic (congenital). They can also develop after birth (acquired). In some cases, childhood cataracts that run in the family cannot be prevented.
There are several reasons why a toddler may be born with cataracts or develop them while they are still young.
For more information on how to care for your child's eye sight, click here.
Although the symptoms for cataract differ from child to child, a child should be taught to watch out for the following symptoms:
If you think your child is too young to complain about such problems, you can shine a flashlight into her eye. If you notice a white pupil, then your child may have cataract.
A child who may not be able to look directly at faces or large object may have cataract. Others signs of cataract include:
Note: If your child has cataract in only one eye, it may be difficult to tell. It is also important to spot cataract in children quickly so that early treatment can be administered and long-term vision problems are reduced.
Parents need not lose sleep over their child having cataract. Most children born with cataract can lead a normal life. However, depending on the nature of the cataract, some might require surgery. Surgery involves a simple procedure where the natural lens of the eyes is removed and replaced with artificial lens. If a child is born with a cataract, it is advisable to opt for treatment within a period of 2 months.
Surgery for cataract is generally successful and with low risk of serious complications but certain complications include glaucoma and posterior capsule opacification (OPC).
Apart from surgery, glasses and contact lenses can also be used to deal with cataract.
Cataract is not a serious disease. Parents should look out for signs and symptoms of cataract in their children and look for appropriate treatment.
For expert tips on eye care in children, read the following article:
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