Written by Ashwin Dewan and published on 23 July 2021.
Cataracts in children are an important cause of visual impairment and blindness. Read on to know what is meant by cataract, its causes, symptoms and treatment options.
Cataracts in babies at birth or early childhood can be due 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 fleck, a crystal, stripes or plaques. Cataract can be unilateral (in one eye) or bilateral (both eyes).
Cataracts are usually associated with elderly people, but children can also develop cataract. Childhood cataracts are often classified as:
There are several reasons why a toddler may be born with cataracts or develop them while they are still young.
Also read: Healthy eyes for your child
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 a large object may have cataract. Other 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. Cataract surgery involves a simple procedure where the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
If a child is born with 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 symptoms of cataract.
Cataract is not a serious disease. Parents should look out for signs and symptoms of cataract in their children and seek appropriate treatment.
Also read: Eye Care Tips For Children
About the author:
Written by Ashwin Dewan on 30 March 2017; updated on 25 September 2019
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