(NewsUSA) – There’s nothing quite like seeing the world through a baby’s eyes, when everything from patterned carpet to the family cat becomes new and wondrous. And there’s a reason for all that fascination. Early in life, the brain and its visual pathways mature rapidly, developing the child’s ability to process visual feedback.
Those born with eye problems need quick intervention if they are ever to experience normal vision. For example, doctors often recommend that babies born with pediatric cataracts, or opaque areas on the eye lens, receive corrective surgery before they are six weeks old.
Pediatric cataracts are rare in developed nations, affecting one to four children in every 100,000 births. Most babies born with cataracts end up with normal vision, thanks to a surgery that removes the affected lens.
But children in developing nations may be 10 times as likely to be born with cataracts, and most don’t have easy access to surgeons. Left untreated, cataracts lead to blindness, which impacts future educational opportunities and the ability to earn income. One study found that, over 10 years, the global economic loss stemming from pediatric cataracts is somewhere between $1 billion and $6 billion.
Luckily, some charitable organizations are working to help children escape lifelong impairment. For example, Lions Clubs International Foundation partnered with the Bausch + Lomb Early Vision Institute to create a new program, the Pediatric Cataract Initiative. The Pediatric Cataract Initiative will identify, fund and promote methods that will help treat pediatric cataracts in undeveloped areas.
Most cataracts are preventable or treatable. When successfully treated with surgery and proper follow-up care, most children with pediatric cataracts will need little, if any, visual correction as adults.
“Too many newborns afflicted with pediatric cataract have a lifetime of vision loss and blindness ahead of them — an untenable prospect in today’s world,” said Paul Sartori, corporate vice president, Bausch + Lomb. “With more funding and attention placed on research, prevention and treatment, we’ll be making an impact on the lives of children worldwide.”
To learn how you can help, visit www.PediatricCataract.org.