It is possible that a pregnant mother may give birth to a baby with cataracts. This type of cataracts is known as congenital cataracts and will result in the baby having a cloudy lens instead of a normal, clear one. There is a high possibility that the child’s vision is impaired to the point of needing cataract surgery to remove his or her lens.
About 0.4% of newborns have cataracts or develop the condition after birth. While surgery is not necessary in all cases, most cases do. If the cataracts are located only on the lens’ peripheral portion, removal may not be considered as the central vision is not impaired. Surgery is also ruled out when the cataracts are tiny.
When an infant is diagnosed with cataracts, it is very important to consider a range of concerns. There is the possibility that the surgery may cause damages to the trabecular meshwork within the eye. This will lead to high intraocular pressure that may cause secondary glaucoma. There are also various safety concerns about using anesthesia on very young babies.
Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that cataract surgery is performed as early on as possible in order to allow the child to develop normally and to ensure clear enough vision. According to some experts, the ideal time to remove a congenital cataract from a baby’s eye is from six weeks to three months of age. If your baby is diagnosed with a congenital cataract, you will have to discuss all of these concerns with an eye surgeon.
After the removal of the cataract, the infant’s eyes will have to be corrected with an intraocular lens, eye glasses or contact lenses. It is very important that the child’s vision is corrected after cataract surgery to improve their vision and to allow for the normal development of their eyesight. There are varied opinions on whether a baby ought to have a surgically placed intraocular lens as that may also cause problems with normal eye development. As the child grows older and their eyes develop with age, their intraocular lenses may also need changing accordingly.
If there is a dilemma about whether to introduce an intraocular lens into a child’s eye, there are other options such as contact lenses that can be fitted on to the cornea as well as eye glasses. If your eye surgeon recommends contact lenses for your child, extended wear lenses are the preferred option to allow simpler handling and care.