What is Cataract?

The human eye functions like a camera. If the lens of the camera is soiled or smeared with grease, a very hazy picture will result. Cataract is clouding of a clear transparent lens inside the eye ball. This clouding prevents the image from being focus on the back of the eye. Cataract is the most important cause of blindness all over the world. Although it occurs commonly in old people, yet it can appear at any age. According to one of our surveys, 15-20% of blindness in children is because of cataract. What are the causes of cataract in children?
• Most of the times the cause of the cataract is not know.
• A child born to a mother who had rubella during the early part of her pregnancy may suffer from cataract. Such a child may not only become blind but may also be at risk of losing his life because of other rubella related problems like congenital heart disease etc. Consequently all children born with cataract must also be examined by a child specialist.
• Other important causes of cataract in children are hereditary factors and injury. How to identify cataract in your child?
• The appearance of a white spot in one or both eyes.
• Sometimes this may not be very prominent, and child may show other symptoms of defective vision like inability to follow accurately the direction of the sound, rapid to and fro movements of the eyeball (nystagmus) and finally the child may be comparatively less active for his/her age.
• Sometimes the child may present with squint. Treatment and prevention of cataract in children
• Since cataract can run in families, the rest of the children in your family should also be examined by an eye specialist.
• All girls above 12 years of age should have vaccination against Rubella.
• The practice of interfamily marriages where hereditary diseases are prevalent needs to be discourages.
• Please protect your child against eye trauma.
• The only cure for cataract is early operations. This involves removal of cataract followed by implantation of an intra-ocular lens (IOL). If an IOL is not implanted then the child will have to wear thick glasses for the rest of his/her life.
• Remember! The surgery for cataract in a child can be performed at any stage, but it gives useful results only it is carried out as early as possible.
• Remember! Take your child to a well equipped hospital where the eye specialist has the required training in child eye surgery. Pediatric Ophthalmology unit at Al-Shifa Trust eye Hospital has all the facilities for this purpose.
Cataract is completely treatable; your child can see again