- The human eye is like a camera.
- There is a lens within the eye which stretches and broadens so a clear image is focused on the retina( back of the eye).
- This image is transmitted to the brain.
- With age, the lens becomes opaque( cloudy). This is the cataract.
- Cataract is more common in adults but occasionally can occur in babies and children.
- Occasionally the cataract can affect only one eye.
- Babies are born with it due to various reasons
- Children develop it over few months or years
Poor vision –
- It is difficult for babies as they don’t complain.
- During the new-born check up done by a doctor at birth, eyes are specifically looked into for cataract.
- Cataract can present with the delay in development – especially the ones requiring coordination.
- Older children may complain of vision problems.
- When there is a blurring of the lens, the eye tries to compensate the damage by overstraining.This can present as squint.
- Squint should always be evaluated. Remember the mild non-paralytic type of squint may be normal up to 6 months of age.
White opacity in the centre of an eye-
- Cataract gets more obvious with time.
- It can be detected much earlier by an eye doctor
- Occasionally the cause may not be found for the cataract.
- Some of the known causes are
- All of your body structures are dependent on genetic combinations from our parents. There could be genetic predisposition for cataract in family
Infection during pregnancy–
- Infections like Rubella, Toxoplasma are known to cause eye problems.
- Make sure you are immune to these infections(TORCH group ) during pregnancy
- Like Down’s syndrome
Genetic metabolic conditions
- Like Galactosemia- Galactose a type of sugar found in food which is broken into smaller particles. If the child does not have enzymes to break galactose, the toxic substances accumulate and cause cataract
Injury to the eye
- The doctor will check the vision of the child.
- They might look into their eyes with a special instrument to look for haziness
- Always see your doctor if you worry about child’s vision. Many children may not complain of vision problems but may complain of eye pain, headache, vomiting occasionally
- The defective lens is changed and a clear one is put in its place
- These may not be as efficient as a natural one. So the child may be given glasses to wear on certain occasions.
- Intraocular Lens may not be recommended up to a child is 2 years as you would want wait for eye maturation. In this time, the child should be given corrective glasses or contact lens.
- If the cataract is accompanied by signs of another disease, then the disease should also be treated appropriately.
- Severe pain in eye
- Sudden loss of vision