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Due to abnormal development of the eye lens during pregnancy, maternal infections or genetic issues, congenital (at birth) cataracts affect about three out of every 10,000 newborns in the U.S. Children.
These affected children develop cataracts before their 16th birthday and are diagnosed with pediatric cataracts or cataracts isolated from congenital abnormalities. Congenital cataracts are only problematic when they are off center or extremely small. If congenital cataracts lie directly over the eye lens and cover more than three-fourths of the lens, your Burlingame ophthalmologist will recommend surgery to remove cataracts.
Congenital cataracts may occur when pregnant women develop measles, chickenpox, and influenza, certain STDs or Epstein-Barr. Birth defects such as chondrodysplasia syndrome, Down syndrome, galactosemia and Marinesco-Sjögren syndrome may also carry the risk of congenital cataracts as well.
Cataracts are dense layers of proteins creating an opaque covering over the lens. When cataracts restrict incoming light, the retina cannot properly transmit visual signals to the brain, which interprets these light messages as images we recognize. For babies and children to develop an optimal vision, the lens must be clear to allow light to focus on the retina. Blurring and distorting of light due to congenital or pediatric cataracts can interfere with vision, cause amblyopia (lazy eye) and even promote developmental problems that may become permanent.
Cataracts interfering with vision need to be removed as soon as the child's physician says it is safe to remove them. Delaying removal of congenital cataracts can delay or prevent normal development of the brain's vision center. Tiny, off-center cataracts may only need monitoring by your ophthalmologist until the cataract begins interfering with vision.
Congenital cataract removal surgery is minimally invasive and involves gently suctioning the lens from the front of the eye and replacing it with an intraocular lens. In most cases, intraocular lenses are not implanted in children under one year old.
For more information about congenital cataracts treatment, contact your ophthalmologist in Burlingame CA today at 650-259-0300.