Eye problems can occur at any age. If they are not addressed early when they occur in children, they can have a direct impact on their physical and emotional development. The inability to be able to see clearly will often affect how your child learns to read, write and even speak. Unfortunately, pediatric cataracts can affect what your child sees. Luckily, when the cataracts are caught early, they can be addressed and corrected by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist. Once corrected, your child is often able to enjoy perfect vision.
What Are Pediatric Cataracts
When you think of cataracts, you think of the white film that you often see formed over an old person’s eye. Unfortunately, children can actually be born with cataracts, or develop them at a very early age.
Cataracts are any type of cloudiness or opacity that covers the lens of the eye, which should normally be crystal clear. When present, they impede the flow of light that enters the eye and is projected to the retina. This distorts the image that is formed on the retina and sent to the brain, which in turn affects the way your child will see.
When these form in children and are not addressed, they can lead to complete vision loss. It is estimated that infantile cataracts are seen in 3 out of every 10,000 births, and are responsible for up to 20% of blindness in children worldwide.
What Causes Pediatric Cataracts?
Pediatric cataracts often have no identifiable source, except those that are caused by a known trauma to the eye. Those that do have a source can often be traced back to one of several different sources. These include:
How Are Pediatric Cataracts Addressed?
Some cataracts in newborns are detected shortly after birth. If they are already advanced, your child’s lens may appear to be cloudy instead of clear. How developed, or advanced they are, as well as where they are located will indicate how soon you need to have these addressed. If they are small, or not affecting your child’s central vision, your doctor may advise you to have a Pediatric Ophthalmologist monitor them and address them later.
If the cataracts are large, or blocking your child’s central vision, your doctor may advise you to consult a Pediatric Ophthalmologist about having them removed. Even when detected at birth, many Ophthalmologists will recommend waiting a few weeks for your child to have cataract surgery. With the optimal time for surgery being when your child is between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 months.
Once the cataract is removed, many doctors will implant an intraocular lens (IOL). This will allow your child’s vision to be corrected without the use of eyeglasses or contact lenses. It will be really important that your child is followed by an ophthalmologist as they grow and develop, as this lens may need to be changed out as your child’s vision changes.
Other doctors may choose not to use intraocular lens but may choose to use glasses or even contact lenses in lieu of IOLs to correct your child’s vision. Still other physicians may recommend using contacts for a period of time and implanting IOLs at a later time. Your ophthalmologist will discuss these options with you, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Never take a chance when it comes to your child’s vision. As already stated, this is a critical sense for their complete and total development. If needed, know that a Pediatric Ophthalmologist will be a valued member of your child’s healthcare team, and they will do everything they can to ensure your child’s eye problems are addressed.
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