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All About Congenital Cataracts: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Gina Walters
Published

LAST UPDATED:

congenital cataracts

Congenital Cataract, the clouding of the eye lens present at birth, disrupts the normal clarity that directs light to the retina.

It is essential to be aware of Congenital Cataract causes and symptoms in order to seek proper medical attention. 

This article will focus on the symptoms, causes, and available treatments of Congenital Cataracts. 

Understanding Congenital Cataract

In contrast to typical age-related Cataracts, Congenital Cataracts are evident from birth.

Research suggests that around 14 million children have Congenital Cataracts worldwide.

Congenital Cataracts are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens that a person is born with, affecting vision.

Difficulty making eye contact, unusual eye movements, and delayed responses to visual stimuli are some of the symptoms of Congenital Cataracts.

Different types of Cataracts may affect infants, and timely intervention is crucial for protecting vision.

Treatments range from corrective lenses to surgical removal, depending on the severity.

It is essential to seek immediate medical assistance to ensure a child’s visual health and overall well-being. 

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Types of Congenital Cataracts

types of cataractSource: Africa_images
Man with a cataract eye

There are several types of Congenital Cataracts, each having its distinct characteristics.

Each type might have a different effect on the eye, resulting in different symptoms.

Let’s discuss the types of Congenital Cataracts for better understanding: 

Cortical Congenital Cataracts: Cortical Cataracts affect the outer layer of the eye lens, causing wedge-shaped clouding.

Posterior polar Congenital Cataracts: This type of Cataract usually affects the back of the eyes.

Anterior Polar Congenital Cataracts: The front section of the eye lens is affected by Anterior Polar Congenital Cataracts.

Nuclear Congenital Cataracts: Nuclear Cataracts, which affect the center of the eye lens, are the most common type of Cataract.

Lamellar Congenital Cataract (Zonular Cataract): Zonular Cataract is a type of Cataract that affects a specific zone or layer of the eye lens.

Pulverulent Congenital Cataract: This type of Cataract causes small, dust-like opacities to appear throughout the lens.

Total Congenital Cataract: This condition affects the entire lens and can cause considerable visual impairment from birth.

Congenital Cataracts can also be classified based on the number of affected eyes.

Unilateral Cataracts are Congenital Cataracts that occur solely in one eye.

Other Congenital Cataracts, known as Bilateral Cataracts, damage both eyes simultaneously.

Curious about the different types of Cataracts? Read Types of Cataracts and learn about their distinctive characteristics. 

Did you know:
Depending on the type and severity, Congenital Cataracts can lead to varying degrees of visual impairment in affected infants.

Symptoms of Congenital Cataract

The symptoms of Congenital Cataracts are generally identical to normal Cataract symptoms.

Infants with Congenital Cataract may make poor eye contact, indicating difficulty forming visual connections.

It is important to look for the following symptoms in infants to discover Congenital Cataracts:

  • Difference between the two eyes
  • Unusual eye movements
  • White or gray cloudiness on the eyes
  • Delayed visual responsiveness

It is important to consult a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms for early diagnosis. 

To effectively identify your child’s eye problem, your eye doctor may recommend undertaking extensive eye tests.

Warning:
Delaying the diagnosis of Congenital Cataracts in infants can delay diagnosis, impacting their visual development.

Congenital Cataracts causes

Various factors can lead to the development of Congenital Cataracts in babies. 

Genetic factors such as a family history of Cataract can lead to the development of Congenital Cataracts. 

Genetic mutations inherited from parents can cause Congenital Cataracts in babies. 

Additionally, traumas or infections during pregnancy can lead the infant to get Cataracts.

Infections like Rubella or Herpes during pregnancy raise the risk of Congenital Cataracts in infants. 

Metabolic disorders and exposure to specific substances can also affect their development.

It is important to note that diagnosing the exact cause of Congenital Cataracts is challenging due to its complex nature. 

Medical evaluation is necessary to determine the contributing factors and appropriate treatment. 

Treatments available for Congenital Cataracts

eyeglassesSource: A's_Images
Eyeglasses for person suffering cataracts

Treating Congenital Cataracts is based on factors like the type, severity, and age.

Doctors often opt for Cataract surgery to remove Cataracts in affected individuals.

However, performing eye surgeries on infants is a risky procedure that necessitates the use of specialized surgical equipment.

Cataract surgery in babies is typically avoided by the doctors, especially in mild cases.

Eyeglasses or contact lenses are usually prescribed for children with Congenital Cataracts.

Patching the active eye may be required in a few cases to restore movement in the other eye.

Seeking medical advice from an eye doctor is crucial for addressing Congenital Cataracts in children.

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Summing up

A Congenital Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that develops from birth. 

Unusual eye movements, differences between the two eyes, or delayed visual responsiveness are some symptoms of Congenital Cataracts. 

Congenital Cataracts in babies are typically caused by hereditary factors that run in families. 

However, in some cases traumas or other medical disorders during pregnancy can also lead to the condition.

Determining the exact cause of Congenital Cataracts is often difficult due to its complex nature. 

Cataract surgery is usually avoided in babies due to its complexities. 

Eyeglasses and specialized contact lenses are prescribed to treat Congenital Cataracts in babies. 

It is important to consult a doctor immediately if you suspect a Congenital Cataract in your child. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Congenital Cataracts get worse?

Congenital Cataracts can progress over time, potentially worsening if left untreated. 
Regular eye check-ups and timely interventions are crucial to monitor and address any changes in the Cataracts’ development.

What happens when a baby is born with Cataracts? 

Cataracts in a newborn can significantly impact their eyesight and general eye health. 
Congenital Cataracts can cause a variety of difficulties in newborns. 
As a result, it is best to get your infant’s eyes examined by an ophthalmologist.

How rare are Congenital Cataracts?

Congenital Cataracts are relatively rare, occurring in approximately 1 to 15 out of every 10,000 live births. 
While not common, early detection and appropriate management are essential for optimal outcomes in affected individuals.

What happens if the Congenital Cataract is not treated?

If left untreated, Congenital Cataracts can cause serious vision impairment in the infant, eventually leading to total blindness.
As a result, it is critical to seek prompt medical attention for Congenital Cataracts.

What causes Congenital Cataracts? 

Several medical conditions, including Galactosemia and Lowe Syndrome, can cause Congenital Cataracts in newborns.
Furthermore, infections or other difficulties during pregnancy may raise the risk of acquiring Congenital Cataracts.

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