We all have a lens in our eyes for vision and when the lens of the eyes is clouded, it is called cataract. If a child has cataract, then it is called paediatric cataract. This is what we refer to as cataracts in children.
Cataract does not allow rays of light to pass through the lens and reach the retina. Retina is the place where lights get focused and we get clear focused vision. It is made up of tissue lining and situated at the back of the eyes. The retina is sensitive to lights and if a cataract is formed in your child’s eye, thenhe or she can have clear eyesight. A cataract is formed due to the cloudy formation of the protein that creates the lens.
There can be many reasons why a child is born with cataract. When there are cataracts in babies or new-born, it is called ‘Congenital’. Sometimes, the cataract may develop later in them, which is called ‘Acquired’.
Here are the causes for cataracts in children:
Sometimes, you may experience eye cataracts due to other eye diseases like glaucoma. Other eye diseases can create complications and cause eye cataracts.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis-
Other illnesseslike rheumatoid arthritis are also known to cause eye cataracts.
You may get cataracts due to steroid consumption. Sometimes, steroids can be present in the medicine you are consuming, which can be a reason for eye cataracts.
If you unknowingly consume any poisonous substance, then it might cause you an eye cataract due to the reaction in the body and eyes.
If the sugar level is very high in your body, then you have high chances of getting cataract. Diabeticsare more prone to eye cataracts. Make sure to keep your sugar level in check to avoid any kind of eye cataract risk in the future.
Some injuries are also known to cause eye cataracts. If you have got an eye injury, then it may cause an eye cataract.
- Down Syndrome-
A child suffers down syndrome when he or she has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. It is also known as trisomy 21. This causes a delay in the development of the mental and physical abilities of the child. Eye cataracts can be one of the illnesses due to this syndrome in a child.
If the child has undergone any treatment through radiation, then he or she may develop a cataract in the eyes.
The symptoms of cataracts are not the same for every child. Here are a few cataract symptoms to look out for:
- Halo Effect -You will notice a circle of light around objects.
- Light Brightness -You may feel that the light is looking too bright to focus.
- Light Glare–You might see a glare in light if you have an eye cataract.
- Troubled Vision -Your vision will not be clear and you will have trouble seeing anything.
- Blurry or Cloudy Vision -There will always be a blur in your vision when you see an object. It will feel like a cloudy vision due to the cloudy formation in your eye lens.
- Nystagmus Eyes-There is a condition called Nystagmus where your eyes will be moving uncontrollably. It is an eye movement in a rhythm where eyes can move up & down, back & forth, mixed or around.
- Misaligned Eyes- When the eyes are not in the right position, it is called Misaligned Eyes. If you have an eye cataract, it may be due to misaligned eyes.
Most of the time, older people get eye cataracts,but it is rare for children to get it. However, there are cases of cataracts in babies and children.
Children have a higher risk of eye cataract if they have the following:
- Down Syndrome-
Genetic problems such as Down Syndrome can cause eye cataracts in children. If thissyndrome runs in your family, then be prepared to take your child to an eye doctor early in his life even if you don’t see any symptoms.
If your child is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, then the risk of eye cataractsis higher.
If your child has any symptoms of cataract, then you should get him diagnosed by a healthcare expert.
- Health History of Child-
The healthcare expert will ask for the history of the health of the child. If your little one’s health has not been good in the past, then it is somehow related to cataract. it will give a better understanding of the condition and causes of cataract in child.
- Pupil Dilation-
The eye doctor may also check for any other problems in the eye or any sign of eye damage by closely examining the eyes. There will be a close-up view check-up of the optic nerve, retina, and lens of the eyes by dilating the pupils. Thismakes the pupil wider for close observation.
- Visual Acuity Test-
The eye doctor can test the ability of the child’s vision by asking him to read from a distant eye chart. In this eye chart, there will be numbers and alphabet in different sizes.
If your child has eye cataract, the treatment depends on multiple factors such as the child’s health, age, symptoms, and severity of the condition.An eye doctor can treat the condition based on the type of cataract your child is having. Sometimes, the treatment can be done by using contact lenses or eyeglasses, which will help him to see better. Children who are more than 1 year old are treated by removing cataracts through cataract eye surgery. After that, new lenses are inserted into the eyes.
Young children can get the eye cataract removed surgically. The doctor will give anaesthesiato the child while conducting the surgery. If thecataractis small and does not affect the vision, then it need not be removed. But if it is affecting the child’s vision, then it needs to be removed immediately as it can affect the long-term vision of the child.
Eye cataracts cannot be prevented in most children. Adults can also develop this condition if they are over-exposed to sunlight. Save your children from getting exposed to sunlight too much. You can use sunglasses to avoid UV rays.
Also Read- Cataract Surgery Cost in Delhi, India – Check Our Price Guide