What Causes Cataracts in Children and Babies
We immediately identify a cataract problem with elderly people. However, you will be surprised to know that, apart from senior citizens, this condition can develop even in babies and children. In fact, Paediatric Cataract, as it is called, affects about 0.4 per cent of infants and children worldwide and is a leading cause of childhood blindness. Its prevalence in developing countries is around 10 times moreas compared to developed nations. We need to know what causes cataracts in babies and children.
How does cataract happen in newborn babies?
When the baby starts to see things, chances are it may register a partial image or sometimes no image at all. This occurs due to the poor focus of light through the eye lens. If your newborn baby has been diagnosed with Congenital Cataract, as cataract in newborn babies is called, it means that the eye lens is cloudy instead of clear. Lens formation in the eyes of the foetus happens between the 3rd and 4th month of pregnancy. Proteins essential for maintaining the eye’s natural lens transparency also begin to form around this time. If something goes wrong at this critical stage, like deficiency in protein formation, there is a strong possibility of the baby being born with a cataract condition.
Infection in the baby’s mother
Another common cause of cataract at birth is if the mother develops ailments such as rubella, chicken pox, syphilis and herpes zoster. Strong antibiotics are administered to the mother, For treating such serious diseases. This powerful medicine enters the foetus through the mother, and dangerously interferes with the baby’s developing visual senses. This leads to a strong chance that the baby will be born with a cataract condition.
Causes of cataract in children
While Congenital Cataract in babies is caused before birth, Acquired Cataract, as cataract in children is called, can occur due to several factors. Some babies are born with ailments like Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Down syndrome. The steroid treatment for these ailments places them at a higher risk of developing cataract. Also, if the child has been a victim of lead poisoning, this can also lead to cataract formation. Sometimes, other inherited eye conditions, like aniridia, could also lead to a cataract disorder in children. Cataracts can be caused by over 60 different kinds of syndrome which affect children.
Apart from the above causes of Acquired Cataract, family hereditary history is also a significant cause for cataract development in children. If either parent has suffered from a cataract condition in childhood, there is an almost 25 per cent probability that the child will also develop the same. Misprints in the genes of either or both parents are a common cause of cataract in children. When the child inherits a misprinted gene, he or she may gradually develop this condition over a period. Early diagnosis and treatment of childhood cataract ensures a good chance of this correcting troublesome condition at an early age.
Author Bio : Naseem Hussain is a media blogger and writes for Orbit Eye Hospital in Mumbai, which specializes in Lasik and Laser Eye Surgery. You can interact with Orbit Eye Hospital on twitter @Lasikeyedoctor