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Cataracts and Prematurity
My daughter is 3-1/2 years old and she was born 2-1/2 months early due to an antibody issue. She has astigmatism in both eyes, near-sightedness, and she has a posterior cataract on the left eye. She's been followed by the Childrens' Memorial Hospital (Chicago) pediatric opthamology department since she was born. Up to this point, she hasn't had glasses. Yesterday her exam, specifically on the left eye, yielded 20/80 minus, and the tech said with a prescription we could improve her left eye to a 20/60. With a prescription on the other eye, we could improve her vision to 20/30. First of all, I thought glasses always brought an individual's vision to 20/20. My daughter's opthamologist is not the best at explaining things and I still don't understand why we can't get her vision to 20/20 with a prescription. Secondly, I researched pediatric cataracts myself, and it appears that her prematurity is likely the cause??? Is that correct. I was frightened when I read about what happens to the vision when a cataract causes light to not reflect in certain ways. A cataract that is effecting vision and left untreated can cause vision loss and a lazy eye. Occasionally, I will see my daughter's left eye slightly misalinged vertically, and the left pupil always appears darker than her right pupil. I don't quite understand what happens to lifetime vision if we took the cataract out now before her eye is fully grown. The technician said that with cataracts, they always wait as long as they can before taking it out...but she didn't explain why. I'm very confused. Would you please provide me with the very best TOP opthamologists in the country who do these surgeries with ease and who have a lot of experience with pediatric cataracts. I'm willing to travel anywhere in the country to get my daughter the best care and make her vision optimal for her lifetime. Thank you!
I am a pediatric cataract specialist. Happy to help.
Glasses only get an eye to 20/20 if there is nothing else wrong with the eye (such as a cataract). All the glasses in the world can’t make one see better through a cloudy lens, which is what a cataract is. If you put your glasses on in the shower and try to look through blurry shower glass, you still see blurry. The only way to get the vision clear if via cataract surgery. But in your child’s case, if the cataract has been there for a long time, the brain might not be able to relearn how to use the eye. It would be helpful to know if the vision was ever better than measured now. If so that would be a good sign that cataract surgery can help.
Prematurity does not cause cataract by itself. Complications of prematurity such as laser for retinopathy of prematurity, infection that causes premature birth, glucose problems or calcium problems can. It may also be coincidental.
Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, FRCSC
Chair, Scientific Advisory Board
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