With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Timothy Saunders, MD (SouthPark, Matthews)
Cataracts are a condition that people usually don’t have to address until they’re in their fifties or sixties, but there are cases where infants or young children can have cataracts.
A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, preventing light rays from passing through and obstructing vision. Aging is the most common cause of cataracts.
A pediatric cataract is when a child experiences clouding of the lens. They can be present at birth, or they can develop later because of an injury or a genetic issue. In rare cases, they are caused by a condition like diabetes.
Fortunately, most pediatric cataracts are discovered very early, either at a baby’s initial exam when they are born or during follow-up wellness exams. If they develop later, they are usually detected during regular vision screenings. In some cases, parents are able to see them.
While an adult’s cataract just impedes their vision, a pediatric cataract can have long-term developmental effects. A child’s eye develops until they are between 8 and 10 years old, and a cataract can cause permanent vision loss due to a condition called amblyopia, where the brain doesn’t learn how to see a clear image, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Timothy Saunders, MD, said.
With adults, cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. But with children, it’s a bit more complicated. Once the cloudy lens is removed and replaced, the child may still need glasses or contact lenses. They may also need patching of the good eye to force them to use the eye where they had cataract surgery.
Fortunately, early detection and proper treatment of a child’s cataract, coupled with appropriate follow-up with their eye doctor, can ultimately lead to successful vision rehabilitation.
If you think your child has a cataract, bring them to a pediatric ophthalmologist at CEENTA. They will give your child a thorough examination and ensure that your child’s vision is as clear as possible.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. You can now schedule an appointment online with Dr. Saunders or any of our pediatric eye doctors. You can also schedule through myCEENTAchart or by calling 704-295-3000.
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