When you think of cataracts, you usually think of older people because the risk of cataracts increases with age. By age 75, half of all Americans have cataracts. However, in rare instances, children can develop them too. Babies can be born with them or develop them as a child.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes and are a leading cause of treatable blindness in children. Research shows that cataracts cause 5-20% of blindness in children worldwide.
The pediatric eye specialists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists PC, with offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, offer expert diagnoses and effective and personalized treatment plans for cataracts and other pediatric eye diseases. Here, they share what you need to know about pediatric cataracts.
Cataract symptoms and causes
The lens of the eye sits inside the eye. It is usually clear. Some cataracts are caused by abnormal lens development at birth. Cataracts present at birth are called congenital cataracts. Other causes of pediatric cataracts that develop after birth include:
- Metabolic disorders
- Eye infections
- Genetic problems
- Traumatic injury
In some cases, the cataract may be a symptom of a chromosomal disorder such as Down syndrome. In many cases, however, the cause of the cataract is unknown. Symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Colors seem faded
- Increased glare or brightness of lights
- The appearance of white or grayish spots on the eye
It may be hard for your child to communicate or realize these vision issues, but if you notice that your child is not tracking normally or something is off with their vision, you should make an appointment with a pediatric eye specialist.
Treatment options for pediatric cataracts
Treatment depends on the severity of the cataract and the age and health of your child. In some cases, the treatment may be as simple as prescribing glasses so your child can see better.
For more severe cataracts, your eye doctor recommends surgery to remove them and then replace the lens. After the surgery, your child will most likely need glasses or contact lenses to help retrain their eyes and solidify the brain and eye connection.
Diagnosing and treating pediatric cataracts early and effectively are important to keep permanent vision issues from developing.
If you notice vision problems in your newborn or young child, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists to make an appointment with one of our expert pediatric ophthalmologists or optometrists. You can also request an appointment online through this website.