During this time you might think that cataracts only occur in people who are old. However, it turns out that newborns can also suffer from cataracts. A baby’s black eye lens is covered with grayish stains and this is called a congenital cataract. In some cases it may not have much impact on the baby’s vision, but in severe cases it can cause blindness in the baby.
What is congenital cataract?
Congenital cataract is the opacification of the lens of the eye that occurs from birth. These eye lenses function to focus the light entering the eye toward the retina, so that the eye can capture images clearly. However, if a cataract occurs, the light rays that enter the eye become scattered when passing through a cloudy lens, so the images received by the eye become blurred and distorted.
If your child has congenital cataracts, he will usually show signs, such as a grayish stain seen on your baby’s pupils or may not, the baby’s vision looks insensitive to the surrounding environment (for example, the baby does not turn when there are people on the side), or unusual baby eye movements.
There are several types of congenital cataracts, namely:
- The anterior polar cataract is located in the front of the lens of the eye and is generally associated with heredity. This type of cataract is often considered unnecessary surgery.
- Posterior polar cataracts appear on the back of the lens of the eye.
- Nuclear cataracts are located in the middle of the lens of the eye and this is the most common type.
- Cerulean cataracts are usually found in both eyes of babies. Usually this type of congenital cataract does not cause vision problems. Cerulean cataracts are usually associated with offspring.
What causes congenital cataracts?
Cataracts that usually occur in older people are usually associated with the aging process. Meanwhile, congenital cataracts that occur in newborns can be caused due to heredity, infection, metabolic problems, diabetes , trauma, inflammation, or drug reactions.
Examples of drugs that can cause cataracts in newborns are tetracycline antibiotics that are used to treat infections in pregnant women. So, for pregnant women, do not carelessly use drugs, you should ask your doctor first.
Congenital cataracts can occur since pregnancy, when pregnant women have infectious diseases, such as measles or rubella (which is the most common cause), rubeola, chicken pox , cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, herpes zoster , poliomyelitis, influenza , Epstein-Barr virus. , syphilis and toxoplasmosis .
In congenital cataracts caused by heredity, abnormalities occur when protein formation is important to maintain transparency of the natural eyepiece, thus ultimately resulting in cloudy blemishes on the eyepiece.
How to treat this disease?
If left unchecked, congenital cataracts can inhibit a child’s vision and can even cause blindness in children. For this reason, cataract surgery is needed as soon as possible to remove your child’s natural lens. Cataract operations on these babies must be done as early as possible to ensure the baby’s vision is sufficient to develop normally. Some experts argue that the time to do congenital cataract surgery is between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 months.
After the surgical removal of the eye lens of a child affected by congenital cataracts, the child’s eye lens can then be replaced with an artificial lens, or the child can also wear contact lenses or glasses after surgery. Without some of these corrective actions after surgery, your child’s vision may be reduced and the baby’s normal vision development will be hampered.
Opinions also vary regarding whether an artificial lens should be attached to your child’s eyes after cataract surgery because it is feared this will inhibit the growth and development of normal eyes. In some cases, contact lenses are attached to the surface of the eye (cornea) which is used to help restore the child’s vision after the child’s eye lens is removed.
After surgery, it may be difficult to predict whether a child’s vision is better, although it is likely that there will always be a reduction in the level of vision in the eyes of children affected by congenital cataracts.
In addition, this operation is not without risk. False, this cataract surgery can cause glaucoma , which occurs when the pressure on the eye is too high. Glaucoma can cause permanent damage to structures in the eye when treatment is not done well.
However, you do not worry, not all congenital cataracts must be operated on. Cataracts that only cover the edges of the lens of the eye may not need surgery, the lens does not need to be removed because vision can still function without obstacles. Very small cataracts may also not need surgery. We recommend that you discuss further with your child’s eye doctor.