Cataracts in Infants

Clouding of the eye lens by a cataract is an important and preventable cause of impaired vision and blindness in children. A study reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) indicates that many cataracts in children are being missed.

What is cataracts in infants?

Failing to detect a cataract in a baby is a potentially serious matter because surgical treatment of dense cataracts is thought to be needed within the first 3 months of life.

Routine eye examinations are recommended for all infants at birth and at 6-8 weeks of age. These examinations are being done in many countries, including the United Kingdom.

In the BMJ study, all children 15 or younger who were born in the U.K., in whom congenital or infantile cataract was newly diagnosed between October 1995 and September 1996, were studied. Data was complete for 235 of the 248 children (95%), which is an impressive measure of study completeness.

83 or (35%) of the 235 children had their cataract discovered at their newborn examination and an additional 30 (12%) at their 6-8 week examination. Therefore, only a minority (47%) of the children in the study had their cataracts detected through the eye examinations which are recommended for all newborns and 6-8 week old infants.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/1/2015

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