A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens inside the eye. While in most instances, this occurs as part of ageing, children can occasionally be affected too. The incidence of childhood cataract is 3/10 000 children.
Cataract is the most common cause of reversible blindness. Paediatric cataracts often occur because of abnormal lens development during pregnancy. Genetic problems, infections, long term steroid medication usage can cause childhood cataracts. We provide phacoemulsification and lens implantation surgery with a wide range of artificial intraocular lenses.
Congenital cataracts are present from birth. Developmental or juvenile cataract can occur anytime between early childhood to late adolescence.
Eye trauma can also lead to early onset cataracts.
A cataract could be the reason sharp images have now become blurred, bright colours dull, or seeing in school or at night become more difficult. Vision with cataracts have been described as seeing through a “cloudy film”.
Cataract surgery is required if it affects vision and your child’s day to day functional activities significantly. This is an outpatient procedure which involves removal of the cloudy lens and replacement with an artificial intraocular lens in its place to restore vision. In children, surgery is always performed under general anaesthesia, with minimal post-operative discomfort. Often, no overnight hospitalisation stay is required.
Cataract surgery is one of the safest and most successful procedures performed today. Significant medical advances have been made in the treatment of cataracts, and in the field of intraocular artificial lens technology.
No. As in adults, the location and severity of the cataract as well as the degree of visual impairment should be assessed before deciding on paediatric cataract surgery.
If small and off-centre, vision can develop normally and the cataract can be left alone.
Age is less of a consideration in the decision whether or not to remove a cataract. More importantly, if vision is impaired, the cataract should be removed as soon as possible to avoid causing lazy eye or amblyopia. This is the interference with normal development of the visual pathways in the brain due to obstruction of vision from the cataract.
If the cataract is mild or off-center, glasses and patching of the normal eye can be helpful for visual development. In such cases, surgery may be delayed or avoided completely.
To read more about the cataract surgery procedure, click here