Congenital Cataract

PATHOLOGY

The Cataract is an ocular pathology characterized by the clouding of the eye’s natural lens; the clouding is usually a physiological condition linked to aging.

In some cases the cataract occurs in infants t and takes the name of congenital cataract, whose incidence is 3:10,000 infants and in two thirds it is bilateral. Congenital cataracts develop in infants for many reasons that can include hereditary tendencies, infections, metabolic problems, diabetes, traumas, inflammations or reactions to drugs.

Many systemic pediatric conditions can be associated to the presence of congenital cataract: inter alia the galactosemia, Lowe Syndrome (ocular cerebral renal syndrome), the hyperthyroidism, pseudohypertyroidism, Fabry disease, hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

The intrauterine infections mainly involved are rubella, toxoplasmosis, chickenpox, Cytomegalovirus infection and Herpes Simplex virus contracted during the intrauterine life.

TREATMENT

Not all congenital cataracts require a surgical removal. In fact it is possible that those that impair only the peripheral portion of the lens do not need being removed, since the central vision, being not involved, does not entail the serious visual and functional deficits mentioned above.

In case of obstacle to the central vision in order to enable the child’s normal development of the visual system, it is necessary that the cataract surgery be executed as soon as possible. The best time for intervening and removing a visually significant congenital cataract is between 6 weeks and 3 months of life. After removing the cataract, it is absolutely necessary to correct the child’s eye with a surgically implanted lens (artificial lens, today also multifocal), contact lenses or spectacles. Without an optimum correction after cataract surgery, the eye will have a poor vision and the normal development of the vision will be hindered and impaired forever.

For these reasons it is always necessary to submit to an eye examination, as soon as possible after the child’s birth, and possible subsequent check-ups according to the specialist’s advice.

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