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Pediatric Cataract

Pediatric Cataract

What is cataract?

Cataract is clouding of the lens. Normally the lens is located directly behind the iris and focuses light on the retina which is the light sensitive area of the retina. On clouding of the lens this light now cannot travel through the lens and there is visual impairment.

What causes cataract in children?

Cataracts are usually seen in older individuals. However, children too can develop cataracts.

Sometimes an infant is born with cataract. This could occur because of some infection that the mother had during her pregnancy like German Measles. In a small percentage of cases it could also be genetic. Most of the times, it is impossible to determine the exact cause of development of cataract.

Cataracts can develop in childhood too often as a result of eye injury or disease states in the other parts of the body. It can also occur because of prolonged ingestion of steroids.

How is the cataract going to be treated?

Some childhood cataracts may only be partial and thus not interfere with vision. These small cataracts usually do not require treatment but should be observed regularly to look for progression. Moderate cataracts may require treatment with glasses or treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye). Larger cataracts which impair vision are treated with surgery.

The surgery in children is done under general anesthesia and require an incision in the eye. Depending on the age of the child your doctor will take the decision of weather to implant a lens in the eye or not.

How is the vision going to be corrected after cataract surgery?

After cataract surgery your doctor will prescribe your child glasses. Depending on whether a lens was implanted in the eyes or not your child may have a low or a high power. The decision whether to implant the lens or not is made by your child’s eye doctor depending on the age of your child.

Your doctor may also prescribe contact lenses for your child. This is usually done if the power of the glasses is high and therefore contact lenses become a better option. Very young children too can wear contact lenses so please do not get worried on how your child will wear contact lenses. Your optometrist will educate you as to how to make your child wear the lenses.

If your child has amblyopia (laze eye), he or she may also require patching of the better eye to stimulate the weaker eye to read. Read the brochure on ‘Amblyopia’ to understand more about this condition.

What is amblyopia?

Amblyopia is a condition in which on examination your child’s eye is completely normal however the vision is less than normal in that eye. This decrease in vision could be due to multiple reasons. One of the reasons is cataract. To treat amblyopia you will have to patch the good eye so that the eye with poor vision is forced to be used and gradually there is a chance of the vision improving. Please read the brochure on ‘Amblyopia’ to understand more about this condition.

What is strabismus?

Strabismus is another name for squint. Here one of your child’s eyes has deviated. There are various types of strabismus and one can learn more about this condition from the brochure “strabismus”. This condition is usually treated by eye muscle surgery when the eyes are realigned.