Cataracts are a very common eye condition. In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness globally.
It is caused when the lens inside the eye becomes hardened and cloudy. This results in vision loss and other symptoms that slowly worsen until the light is completely blocked from reaching the back of the eye.
Typically, this is associated with senior citizens. Proteins inside the eye lens begin to break down and clump together as you get older, which causes cloudiness.
Although cataracts are most often the result of aging, they can develop due to other causes and factors. Keep reading to learn if it is possible to have cataracts at birth!
What Are Congenital Cataracts?
Congenital cataracts are cataracts in newborn children. They are not especially common, occurring approximately one to fifteen times out of every ten thousand births.
Cataracts can be present in either or both eyes at birth. Congenital cataracts are often a part of another genetic issue with the infant.
These are known as syndromic congenital cataracts. However, sometimes congenital cataracts are the only condition present, in which case they are considered non-syndromic.
What Causes Congenital Cataracts?
It is not clear what exactly causes congenital cataracts. Some research suggests it results from a change in genes or chromosomes.
Essentially, the body may not be replicating cells typically. Congenital cataracts could be from injuries during pregnancy.
Physical trauma from a car accident or other hard impacts could damage the baby’s eyes. Similarly, infections could spread to the child and trigger cataract development.
This includes the herpes virus, chickenpox, influenza, measles, and syphilis. Low blood sugar during pregnancy may also increase the risk.
Hypoglycemia from diabetes is dangerous for both mother and child.
How Do I Prevent Congenital Cataracts?
It is a good idea to have a preconception meeting with your doctor if you are planning to have a baby. Making sure the mother is in good health gives the baby a great start.
You should also look into your family history. While congenital cataracts do occur without family history, there may be a genetic link or other genetic issues that could affect the child’s risk.
As the mother, during the pregnancy, focus on staying safe and healthy. Wear your seatbelt in vehicles at all times, prevent infections by keeping yourself clean, and get prenatal care regularly.
Can Congenital Cataracts Be Removed?
A pediatric ophthalmologist can diagnose congenital cataracts. It is very important to get early treatment in babies.
If they do not receive treatment, their eyes may not develop properly. For most babies, treatment is surgery.
A pediatric ophthalmologist that specializes in congenital cataracts can remove the lens in the baby’s eye. This lens is replaced with an intraocular lens inside the eye, or contact lenses may be used.
Intraocular lenses are typically only used on babies older than one.
If your baby has better vision in one eye than the other following the surgery, it may need patch therapy.
During this, a patch is placed onto the healthy eye until the weaker eye catches up.
Do you have more questions about cataracts? Schedule an appointment in NYC with Stahl Eyecare Experts.