PEDIATRIC CATARACT SURGERY
What is a cataract?
When natural crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy, it is known as cataract.
Symptoms of cataract:
Is operation the only remedy?
Yes, it is. Unfortunately, once the lens of the eye has become cloudy, there is no medical treatment or nutritional method available till date for clearing the cataract.
It is now not necessary to wait till the cataract ripens to
thick white opacity; it can be removed when it starts to interfere with normal
daily activities such as reading the newspaper.
Can intraocular lenses be put in children?
Gone are the days of wearing those heavy and unsightly specs
which have so many drawbacks - difficulty in crossing the road, climbing the
stairs etc. Changing times and advanced technology have brought a variety of
intra ocular lens implants. These are natural lens. They are UV coated; hence
protect the retina from harmful effects of UV radiation.
How is cataract surgery performed?
Traditional surgery involves making a large incision of 9 to 10 mm and closing it with several stitches. This pulls the eye out of shape resulting in distorted astigmatic vision.
Phacoemulsification makes use of small, highly sophisticated ultrasonic machine. This is steered into the eyes. Localised high frequency sound waves break up the cataract into small fragments, which are then, sucked out through the instrument's hollow tubing. A thin capsule or shell is left in place. This maintains the natural anatomy of the eye. The size of the incision is only 3 mm. Intraocular lens is implanted through this opening. It is placed inside the eye in place of the natural lens. With a foldable IOL, the incision remains 3mm. The healing is fast.
There are cases where the child is born with the cataract in both or either of the eyes which will require an urgent ophthalmic check up. If the cataracts are total, surgery has to be performed fairly soon otherwise the light reflex may not develop causing almost irreversible loss of vision. Whether to put an IOL implant or not is to judged by the surgeon thorough examination of the case and keeping in mind the overall assessment and physiological development of the child. At present cataract surgery in children has been made fairly safe and also IOL implants do give good sight. But these type of cases need through follow up examinations at regular intervals. If necessary IOLs have to exchanged at a later date.
Last updated on 22-10-2001