Understanding Congenital Cataracts, Cataracts in Newborns

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Understanding Congenital Cataracts, Cataracts in Newborns
Understanding Congenital Cataracts, Cataracts in Newborns
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Congenital cataract is a condition when the lens of the eye in newborns looks cloudy. If not treated early by a doctor, congenital cataracts can cause vision problems or even blindness in babies

Normally, the lens of the eye has no color or is clear (transparent). The clear lens of the eye is used to facilitate the refraction of light into the retina of the eye. If the lens of the eye is cloudy or affected by cataracts, it will be difficult for light to be refracted into the eye, causing visual disturbances.

Understanding Congenital Cataracts, Cataracts in Newborns - Alodokter

Cataracts are more common in older people. However, in certain cases, this eye disorder can also occur in newborns. Cataracts that occur in newborns are called congenital cataracts. This type of cataract can occur in one or both eyes of the baby.

Symptoms and Causes of Congenital Cataract

Cataracts in newborns are not always visible to the naked eye. This condition is generally only detected when the doctor performs an examination of the baby's eyes.

In addition to cloudy eye lenses, babies or children with cataracts can also experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Lack of responsiveness or responsiveness to light
  • Difficult to distinguish colors
  • The eyes look white when exposed to light
  • Uncontrollable eye movements or nystagmus

Congenital cataracts are usually hereditary. This means, a baby is more at risk of developing this condition if one or both parents have had cataracts.

In addition to heredity, there are several other factors that can also cause congenital cataracts, including:

1. Infection

A newborn can develop congenital cataracts if he or she has had an infection while in the womb.

Some of the infectious diseases that can cause babies to be born with congenital cataracts are TORCH infection, chickenpox, measles, polio, Epstein-Barr virus infection, and flu.

2. Born prematurely

Babies born prematurely have a higher risk of developing congenital cataracts. This is because the eye lens in premature babies is generally not fully formed.

3. Genetic disorders

Congenital cataracts can also occur due to genetic disorders that make the baby's eye lens not formed normally. Examples of genetic disorders that can cause congenital cataracts are Down syndrome, Patau syndrome, and metabolic disorders such as galactosemia.

4. Drug side effects

The fetus is at risk for congenital cataracts if the mother takes certain drugs, such as tetracycline during pregnancy. This antibiotic is used to treat bacterial infections.

5. Injury to the eye

Injury to the eye can also be one of the causes of newborns experiencing cataracts. This condition can be caused by many things, such as radiation exposure to the baby's eyes.

Besides some of the causes above, congenital cataracts can also occur due to other factors, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders in infants.

Congenital Cataract Diagnosis

Congenital cataracts are often difficult to recognize in the early stages. However, this condition can be detected when a newborn undergoes a physical examination by a pediatrician. If a baby is suspected of having congenital cataracts, the pediatrician may refer him to an ophthalmologist for further eye examinations.

In diagnosing congenital cataracts, the ophthalmologist will perform a physical examination of the baby's eyes and additional examinations, such as ophthalmoscopy, blood tests, eye pressure checks, to CT scans and ultrasound of the eyes.

In children, the doctor may perform a complete eye exam and visual acuity test to determine if a congenital cataract is causing the child to experience visual impairment.

Congenital Cataract Treatment

Congenital cataracts can be treated with cataract surgery. However, this operation is generally only done if the congenital cataract that occurs is severe enough or has caused visual disturbances. This operation aims to remove the damaged eye lens and replace it with an artificial eye lens.

Even after getting new eye lenses, babies usually still need assistive devices such as glasses or contact lenses so that their vision can function better.

As parents, Mom and Dad are certainly worried if your little one suffers from congenital cataracts. However, with early detection and treatment, congenital cataracts can be overcome and the little one's vision function can improve. Early treatment can also prevent permanent blindness and developmental disorders.

Therefore, Father and Mother are advised to immediately consult a pediatrician or ophthalmologist if they find signs of congenital cataracts in their little one.

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