Possible Newborn Health Problems
Gastro-intestinal Tract Disorders
Unusual Blood Results
Congenital cataracts occur when a baby is
born with cloudiness in the lens at the front of the eye.
A unilateral cataract occurs in one eye, bilateral
cataracts in both eyes.
When the lens is transparent, as usual, it lets through light
so the baby can see clearly and develop normal eyesight.
When the lens is cloudy with cataracts, less
light gets through and blurred images are formed, the baby cannot
see clearly and normal eyesight cannot develop.
If not treated, a baby with large cataracts
may have squinting or jerky eye movements (nystagmus) and permanently
All new babies with Down syndrome are tested
for the red-reflex. A doctor shines a light from an ophthalmoscope
at the babys eye and usually the retina at the back of
the eye looks red . Babies with cataracts have no red-reflex.
Cataracts usually need to be treated surgically
in the first few weeks of life.
The lens from the eye is removed.
After the operation, the baby wears special
glasses or contact lenses.
If only one eye has cataracts, the lens from
this eye is removed and the other eye is covered (patched).
This forces the eye, which had the cataracts
to be used, which develops its vision.
Surgery may not be needed for small cataracts;
it may be enough to dilate the pupil with eye drops, so more
light gets through.
Babies with cataracts need to continue seeing
an ophthalmologist often to check their eyesight remains as
clear as possible.