Generally speaking, cataract means clouding of the eye’s natural lens. This clouding damages vision.
Cataracts can appear at any age (even in childhood), their morphology varies, and their severity is assessed by whether and how much it affects a child’s eyesight.
The treatment of pediatric cataract is surgical, but not all pediatric cataracts require it. Only 3 out of 10,000 children present cataracts that require surgery.
If the cataract is congenital (observed since the first months of life) and operable, then the surgery should be performed during the first 2 months of life. The decision is a concern of the doctor and the parents.
Pediatric cataract may be hereditary, due to lens dysplasia, genetic or metabolic disorders, infections of the endometrium (e.g. rubella, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex), other systemic diseases, prematurity, injury, while the causes remain unknown, to a large extent.
Pediatric cataracts can occur at birth or later, during the developmental stages.
What parents should know regarding pediatric cataract surgery
- Addressing the cataract aims at attempting vision enhancement, and, in this attempt, surgery is only the beginning.
- This surgery differs from the respective surgery for an adult and experience is required.
- The natural lens is removed and its replacement is achieved either by placing a special intraocular lens (not recommended for children under twelve months of age), special contact lenses, or glasses.
- As with any surgery, this one can also pose risks, both early (infections etc.) and late (glaucoma, blurring of the visual axis from membranes, detachment etc.).