When your baby is born, the most important thing you wish for is that they're in good health. So when your doctor informs you that your baby has cataracts, it's only normal to experience a sinking feeling in your stomach and overwhelming thoughts of worry. Although your baby's cataracts are an issue you're going to need to deal with in the coming weeks, they are a common problem and can almost always be treated so that your baby has completely normal eyes and vision. Here's a closer look.
What are infantile cataracts?
A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye, which is supposed to be completely clear in order for light to shine through. Though cataracts are most often seen in older adults, they can appear in infants as a result of trauma during pregnancy or birth, or as the result of a genetic predisposition. Cataracts are not usually a sign of another more serious, underlying problem or disease.
How are infantile cataracts treated?
In most cases, your infant will need to have his or her cataract removed because it will interfere with the vision. Your baby will have cloudy, obstructed vision until the cataract is removed.
Removing cataracts is a surgical procedure that's now performed predominantly with lasers. The laser will be specifically programmed to make an incision and remove the cloudy lens from your baby's eye. A new, artificial lens will then be put into place. All of this is done after numbing drops have been placed in your baby's eye, so he or she won't feel a thing. After the surgery, your baby might have slight itching in his or her eye, but drops will be used to minimize discomfort and prevent infections. Your baby should not be in any serious pain.
When are the cataracts removed?
Most doctors recommend having the cataract removed as soon as possible so that it does not interfere with your baby's visual development and first impressions of the world. You may be able to have the surgery performed before you even take your baby home from the hospital.
If your new baby has been diagnosed with cataracts, don't be too concerned. When it comes to diseases and issues that can present at birth, this one is pretty minor. With proper treatment, your baby should grow up to have completely clear vision and no ill effects from the cataracts. Plus, the treatment is almost painless and has a long track record of success. Talk with your baby's eye doctor for more information.