A newborn baby is often compared to a clay mold that is to be shaped and nurtured like a plant that enters this unknown world blank. While the process of parenting an infant is beautiful and important, it is also very fragile and needs devoted attention more so because a baby cannot even communicate clearly what he/she is going through and is mostly unaware of the same especially when it comes to a medical discomfort internally. This problem specifically holds true for an issue that the baby must be facing with his/her vision as they do not even know about it. Such concern arises mostly if the child has cataracts. Yes, while many believe that its only adults who are likely to get cataracts, babies and children can get them too.
A cataract is basically a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. If this area appears large or dense, it can cause blurry vision or even block the vision altogether. A cataract could exist in either one eye of the child or in each of the two.
The reasons behind your child having a cataract can vary:
One way to observe is that by the time the baby is 3 months old, he/she should be able to look around a room and track things with eyes. If not so, pediatric ophthalmologist need to be contacted.
Parents can also check if the child’s eyes are misaligned.
The treatment to remove cataracts is only surgery. However, if the cataract is small and does not affect the vision of the child then it may not need to be removed. But if it affects the eyesight, it must be removed at the earliest possibility else the vision can be affected in the long term.
The optimal time about when the surgery should be performed depends on the density as well as the location of the opacification, and are an expert’s decision. Experts usually suggest that the optimal time to intervene and remove a visually significant congenital cataracts is between the ages of 6 weeks and 3 months. To enable normal visual development, prevent amblyopia as well as blindness, cataract surgery should be conducted as soon as possible.
The early the diagnosis, the sooner the treatment, the more are the chances of saving the baby’s vision. If not timely taken care of, congenital cataracts lead to “lazy eye” or amblyopia which can further lead to other eye problems like strabismus, nystagmus and inability to fix a gaze upon objects. These issues can thoroughly affect personality, learning ability and even appearance which will ultimately affect the child’s entire life.
Regular eye check-ups need to be continued with the doctor even after surgery.
Dr Vidya C – Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmology- Sankara Eye Hospital