A cataract is a painless eye disease involving the acquired or progressive opacification of the lens of the eye. Opacification of the lens may lead to vision as through the steamy glass, and in very advanced cases even to the complete loss of vision.
Cataract is increasingly diagnosed in children: it can occur already at birth or appear in the first years of life. Cataract in infants and babies is often congenital. The development of the disease is highly affected also by factors associated with pregnancy, e.g. taken medications or diseases (rubella or measles). Diseases must not be underestimated, as it often contributes to the impaired vision and child’s development through secondary amblyopia, nystagmus, squint, and even loss of the eye ball.
Symptoms of cataract in children
In children with symptoms of cataract there can be observed white pupils, frequent rubbing of the eyes, lack of interest on the objects being shown, as well as a characteristic digital and ocular symptom, which involves the pressing of the eyes with fists or thumb by the infant. There are also asymptomatic cases, which often occur in the case of cataract not involving the central portion of the lens. This contributes to the diagnosis of the disease as late as at the stage of preschool or school.
Treatment of cataract
Treatment of cataract in children is similar to procedures performed in adults and involves surgical removal of the opaque lens. Due to the fact that the opaque lens prevents the normal development of vision ability, surgical procedure should be performed as soon as possible, virtually immediately after the diagnosis of the disease.
Cataract removal procedure is performed using the method of phacoemulsification, or ultrasonic fragmentation of the opaque lens. In its place an artificial lens is implanted. In the case of medical contraindications against implantation of an artificial lens, a temporary treatment with eye glasses or contact lenses is applied. After the procedure, the child’s vision requires rehabilitation.
At Specialized Hospital Medical Center MAVIT in Katowice we also perform operational cataract treatment under the contract with the National Health Fund.