Causes for various congenital cataracts

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Common cataracts come from the clustering of the lens’ protein as people age. Unfortunately, it is estimated that about 0.4% of infants are born with cataract, which is formally named congenital cataract. While peripheral cataract and tiny cataract do not consider a surgery as a necessity, most children with cataracts should receive a surgery and receive intraocular lenses (IOLs) to restore clear vision. However, cataract surgery on children is still controversial. This writing discusses in details different positive and negative opinions about this treatment and other alternative solutions for immature cataract patients. Before that, cataracts classification and their possible causes will be introduced.

Cataracts can occur in different eye parts

There are different types of congenital cataracts, depending on different parts of the eye lens at which cataracts are commonly found. Usually associated with inherited traits, anterior polar cataract is located in the front part of the lens, while posterior polar cataract usually appears in the back portion. Another common form is nuclear cataract, which is situated in the central lens. Displaying in small, bluish dots in both of the lenses, cerulean cataract is also related to inherited tendencies.

Some possible reasons for congenital cataracts

Those unusual congenital cataracts may result from various reasons, e.g. inherited tendencies, infection, metabolic problems, diabetes, trauma, inflammation and drug reactions. Infections in pregnant women such as measles, rubeola and chicken pox are proved as possible reasons for cataracts. Another type of cataract named pediatric cataract has been found on older babies and children, which may be caused by trauma problems.

A positive opinion about cataract surgery for infants

It is widely acknowledged that cataract surgery is the most popular and effective treatment for adults with this eye disease. When it comes to infant candidates, there are two opposite opinions about the time at which infants with cataract should receive a surgery. Some professionals say that a cataract surgery should be performed within three months after the birth of a baby, in order to get clear vision to allow the normal development of its vision system. Untreated cataracts in infants are considered by these experts as a possible cause of visual problems like amblyopia.

Safety concerns are also popular

On the contrary, some other experts show more concerns about the safety issues that a cataract surgery may impose on children. Both complications including high internal eye pressure and the use of anesthesia during the procedure may exert dangerous factors on children’s eyes. Their concerns also come from the implantation of IOLs, which are believed to hamper infants’ eye growth. Once IOLs are inserted, they have to be replaced at certain points, since children’s eyes are growing and changing.

Corrective eyeglasses and contact lenses are alternative to IOLs

IOLs are not the single solution. Eyeglasses and contact lenses can also be used to provide clear vision for infants after a cataract surgery. Some young children may be reluctant to wear eyeglasses or contacts, due to their inconvenience and potential scoffing from their counterparts. Parents should take some skills as well as complimentary remarks. If a child is lazy, it is possible to apply extended contact lenses while he or she is sleeping. Parents may also set an example in wearing glasses, even if they do not need them.

A general consensus

In fact, the above two groups of experts differ only in the specific treatments (IOLs or eyewear products) for congenital cataract. The necessity of curing this eye disease as early as possible has got a general consensus from both of them. It is commonly recognized that congenital cataracts may lead to amblyopia, potential strabismus and focusing inability. Without an early treatment, children’s school performance, personality and even future lives can be affected.