Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding area over the front part of the eye – an area that is normally transparent. It can affect either one eye or both eyes. The center of a child’s eye might look cloudy or white, or like someone poured milk into the eye, or a child might complain of feeling something scratchy in their eye. Cataracts can be so small that they do no impact vision at all, or they can be quite large and lead to loss of vision. Approximately 3 out of 10,000 children have a cataract. Causes: Congenital cataracts occur in babies for many reasons including infection, metabolic problems, diabetes, trauma, inflammation or drug reactions. Tetracycline antibiotics used to treat infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause cataracts in newborns. Other infections during pregnancy such as measles or rubella (the most common cause), rubeola, chicken pox, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, poliomyelitis, influenza, Epstein-Barr virus, syphilis and toxoplasmosis may cause cataracts in babies. In older children 40% of cases are associated with eye trauma. Treatment: Not all cataracts require treatment, but larger ones may require surgery. An intraocular lens is often implanted during surgery.
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