Cataract (Opacification of lens) occurs even in children. It can be present since birth or develop within few years of life. The cause maybe due to some diseases like Diabetes, Glycosemia, infections transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy itself like Rubella or the cause may be unknown. Sometimes the disease can be due to genetic causes.
In small babies, the cataract per se is difficult to make out and the parents develop concern when they don’t make eye contact or looking at mother’s face at the scheduled time. If the opacification involves the entire lens, then the white opacification of lens can be made out in the center of the pupil. If it involves only a portion of lens then there may not be interference with vision and the condition may be detected only late.
Any cataract in the early years of life must be operated and removed at the earliest possible as it interferes with the vision development and brain development indirectly.
The treatment involves removal of cataractous lens by surgery and glasses or contact lens are prescribed. The placement of artificial lens is possible in older children but not in very young children. In such children, the lens is placed by another surgery at a later date. Apart from the surgery, the most important aspect of the treatment is prescription of glasses and patching if required. Only this can ensure complete visual rehabilitation. As the power of the glasses tends to change with increasing age, regular follow-up is mandatory. The children who have undergone cataract surgery are also at risk of developing glaucoma.