Cataract is a devious illness, and when it catches us the whole world becomes foggy – literally.This is why we are sponsoring the campaign “Eye rescue – free cataract surgery”*, as this problem applies not only to people of a ripe old age but also to the young. Luckily, once a cataract is removed it does not reappear – thus it is worth deciding to undergo surgery if there is such a possibility. Occasionally lens clouding may appear but in such a situation simple laser treatment will restore clarity of vision. The nature of this illness is a creeping clouding of the lens which contributes to a situation in which less and less light reaches the retina and sight becomes unclear. Although some cataract types may be congenital or develop because of various diseases, in the majority of cases they develop after the 50th year of life, affecting more or less 90% of all people over 75.
*Charity campaign “Eye rescue – free cataract surgery” – the initiators which are amazing people from the CMP Foundation – How can I help? – aims at subsiding or financing surgery for people who:
– have been diagnosed with cataract (medically evidenced),
– need fast surgery when the waiting period for the procedure provided by the National Health Fund is too long,
– are not able to cover the expense related to the procedure, and the illness is developing,
– are residents of Warsaw or the Poviat of Piaseczno.
1. Paediatric ophthalmologist – early testing
Basic sight testing can be conducted on children as young as four months old in order to exclude the possibility of retinoblastoma or cataract.
2. Is it possible to diagnose cataract at an early stage?
It is; however only during a routine ophthalmology test. In order to evaluate the degree of lens clouding, a paediatric ophthalmologist will apply eye drops dilating the pupils; they will then test the anterior part of the eye with a slit lamp.
Let’s see how the testing of an anterior part of the eye with a slit lamp looks like:
We very often remind people, not only on Facebook but also on our blog, that the early detection of any eyeball irregularity should ensure the full recovery from the disease or the correction of a refraction defect. Make an appointment for your child with our paediatric ophthalmologist and orthoptist, call us on: 22 266 09 95! Our office is equipped with all the modern equipment necessary to diagnose and cure eye diseases and sight irregularities.
3. Is permanent carenecessary after cataract surgery?
It is, especially in the case of an inborn cataract. During the post-surgery period the child must be under the permanent care of a paediatric ophthalmologist in order to exclude the possibility of developing visual impairment and a squint of the sick eye.
4. What should be avoided after cataract surgery?
After the procedure (for about a month) intense exercise should be avoided as well as performing work which requires carrying heavy loads. Other activities we would advise against at this stage are as follows: cycling and riding a motorbike as well as running, skiing, skating, roller coasting, horse riding and playing any team games such as volleyball, basketball, American football, soccer etc.
5. Is the surgery itself enough to restore correct vision?
No, it is not. After the procedure it is necessary to correct insufficient refraction by using corrective glasses. Usually, implants of intraocular lenses (artificial lens) are applied but they cannot be used in children under two years old.
6. What is lens clouding?
Lens clouding is a natural symptom of body aging. In the majority of cases before the age of 50, the biochemical and osmotic balance changes, which is crucial for maintaining the clarity of the lens. Protein synthesis is becomes slower as its metabolism is disturbed. As a result of these changes the lens starts losing its flexibility and clarity, which prevents light accessing the interior of the eyeball.
7. Is age a factor in the appearance of cataract?
Yes, it is, as cataracts appear most commonly in persons over 75.
No, it is not; people also suffer from inborn cataract – a hereditary disease, or it is caused by chromosomic aberration. It originates as a result of a chromosomic mutation appearing in the gamete of one of the parents or in a more distant ancestor. About 0.6% of newborns are born with chromosomic aberrations but depending on the gene which the aberration concerns we might be facing a different illness. More on aberration types can be found in Anna Latos-Bieleńska’s publication.
9. What are the symptoms of inborn cataract in children?
Symptoms of inborn cataract in children are as follows:
white reflex from pupil, white pupil (this is also common for retinoblastoma – an intraocular tumour),
• pressing the eyes with thumbs or fists (bilateral cataract),
• strabismus, nystagmus, failing a vision clarity test,
• clouding in lens present when the child is born or in the first months of life,
• asymptomatic, visual abstraction or strabismus (lazy eye) noticed by parents
10. What are the symptoms of cataract in young people and adults?
Symptoms of cataract are as follows:
• deterioration of vision clarity which cannot be improved with glasses,
• change in colour perception, i.e. bright colours seem darker,
• rapid eye fatigue,
• better vision after dark and when the day is cloudy, being dazzled in bright daylight,
• oval shapes near sources of light,
• picture fogging – in a way in which only brightness and darkness, day and night may be tell.
Most importantly an appropriate medical diagnosis and the application of adequate treatment is necessary. If any of the abovementioned symptoms appears in your child or in you, the presence of an intraocular tumour should be excluded as soon as possible. Only an early diagnosis and the application of treatment can save your sight.
11. What are the most common causes of an inborn cataract? Among the most common causes of inborn cataract are the following:
- – chromosomic aberration – Down’s syndrome (cataracts of differing intensities appear in 60% of all patients), trisomy* 18, 13 and the deletion of the chromosome’s 5 short arm.
The graphic below explains trisomy:
Nowadays DNA tests, such as the NIFTY test are performed. The NIFTY test is a very sensitive prenatal test which determines the risk of the appearance of three of the most common chromosome defects. They are: Down’s syndrome (natal frequency 1:700), Edwards’ syndrome (natal frequency 1:3000) and Patau’s syndrome (natal frequency 1:8000-12000). These can be diagnosed with a blood test – similar to morphology. The approximate cost is PLN 2000 +.
- – heredity (⅓ of all cases),
- – intrauterine infection (cause: rubella virus, causing unilateral or bilateral total cataract; lens clouding appears as a result of direct virus invasion of the lens in the 1st trimester of pregnancy); cataract is also caused by shingles, herpes, polio, influenza, hepatitis, cytomegalovirus as well as syphilis and toxoplasmosis,
- – metabolic disorder (including: galactosaemia, galactokinase deficiency, mannosidosis, Lowe’s syndrome),
- – low natal weight,
- – high toxicity – embryos which have been exposed to ionizing radiation or medicines such as sulfonamides,
- – child’s mother having ingested corticosteroids.
Thank you for stopping by! We would like to invite you for more interesting posts, there will be new ones soon. Visit our Facebook’s page, to get our everyday news. Use the translation option in the posts, because we post in Polish only!:
PWN (Polish Scientific Publishers), Popular Scientific Encyclopaedia,
“Newsweek Poland. Science”, special edition 2/2003;
Social campaign: “Look a child in the eyes” spojrzdzieckuwoczy.pl/index.php/baza-wiedzy/baza-wiedzy-zacma-wrodzona/
The analysis “CHROMOSOMIC ABERRATIONS – CLINICAL EFFECTS OF CHROMOSOMIC ABERRATIONS”, Anna Latos-Bieleńska (Genetics Department of Medical Academy in Poznań).