Paediatric Cataract Surgery
If your child’s cataract(s) is visually significant, surgical intervention is the only option. Paediatric cataract surgery requires experience and a high degree of skill due to the technical challenges of operating on a young child’s eye.
Our paediatric ophthalmologists have subspecialist training in paediatric cataract surgery.
We are aware the timing of surgery is critical for visual development. Surgery should be performed between 1-2 months of age to maximise vision and minimise the risk of complications and long term risk of ‘aphakic’ glaucoma.
Paediatric cataract surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. The cataracts are soft and can be easily sucked out with an irrigation-aspiration device.
An intraocular lens (IOL) may be implanted in the eye. It is considered safe in children as young as one year however, in babies less than one year the decision is more controversial due to increased risk of complications and highly unpredictable optical outcomes.
For infants, aphakic contact lenses are the treatment of choice for those who do not receive an IOL. As the eye grows a ‘secondary’ IOL can be implanted in suitable cases.
Post operatively the eye/s are very red, watery and sensitive to light due to inflammation within the eye. This is managed with intensive steroid eye drops and pupil dilating drops over a period of at least 4 weeks.
Unlike adult cataract, the management of a pediatric patient is not complete when the post-operative period is over. Visual rehabilitation, especially in cases of unilateral cataract can be very challenging due to poor vision. Treatment involves correction of residual refractive error and intensive amblyopia treatment via patching of the ‘good’ eye.
The refractive outcome surgery is unpredictable due to the growth of the child’s eye. The power of the contact lens or glasses will change frequently as the eye grows. All children will need bifocal glasses for reading for the rest of their lives.
Lifelong careful follow-up is essential for all paediatric cataract cases.
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