A cataract is known to be the clouding of the lens of the eye that occurs later in life. If it is present at birth, it is called a congenital cataract.
Cataract surgery may be recommended to prevent amblyopia and blindness in infants but it depends on the location of the opacification and density.
There are some cases of congenital cataracts that affect only a small part of the lens which does not become a hindrance in normal vision to warrant surgery.
It is good timing to remove cataract while the child is an infant to promote normal vision development. There are experts who suggest that the optimal time to remove cataracts is 6 weeks and 3 months.
It is important to discuss the timing to remove the congenital cataract with eye surgeons as a parent to be aware of what to do. After cataract surgery, vision correction is advised because, without it, it can impede the vision development of the infant. It can be in the form of a surgically implanted intraocular lens (IOL), contact lens, or eyeglasses.
Causes of Congenital Cataracts
There are numerous reasons why congenital cataracts occur at birth. It could be genes, infection, problems with metabolism, diabetes, trauma, or inflammation.
When infections have occurred in pregnant women, they use tetracycline antibiotics to treat it and it is shown to cause congenital cataracts. It can also occur when the mother developed measles and other types of infection during pregnancy.
Pediatric cataract refers to cataracts that occur in older babies and children. It could be possible that it can be a congenital cataract that has not been identified earlier.
Types of Congenital Cataracts
- Anterior polar cataracts are small and located in the front part of the eye’s lens. It is often associated with inherited traits but in many cases does not require surgery.
- Posterior polar cataracts are located at the back portion of the eye’s lens with noticeable opacifications.
- Nuclear cataracts are the common form of congenital cataract and it is very visible because it appears in the central part of the eye’s lens.
- Cerulean cataracts are small and have bluish dots in the lens. It can be found in both eyes of infants but usually, it does not cause any vision problems.
Cataract surgery is the only treatment for congenital cataracts. Visit an eye doctor early in childhood to determine the eye health of your child.