On 6 March 2019, Sidra Medicine’s Ophthalmology team activated a new service by performing the first pediatric and infant cataract surgeries.
Cataracts are often diagnosed at birth or at wellness clinics. While cataracts are often associated with adults - pediatric cataracts can be congenital or acquired and affect one eye (unilateral) or both eyes (bilateral). They can be caused by genetic predisposition, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or trauma to the eye that damages the lens. They can also occur spontaneously.
For children, whose eyes and brain are still learning to see, distortion can lead to lazy-eye (amblyopia). Without early diagnosis and proper treatment, pediatric cataracts can cause abnormal connections between the brain and the eye. Once the condition sets in, these connections are irreversible.
In the case of the first patient, a four-year-old, the mother noticed that her child’s eye was turning white, which was the clouding of the lens indicating cataracts.
Dr. Pedro Mattar, Senior Attending Physician explained the first case: “The child was diagnosed and underwent cataract surgery in one eye. Under sedation, the clouded lens was removed and an artificial lens was implanted. In most adult cases, this would be sufficient to regain sight. However, in a child or infant additional delicate procedures, a posterior capsulotomy and anterior vitrectomy, need to be carried out. The eyes are done one at a time to ensure the least inconvenience and best result. The next surgery will be scheduled soon.”
The second patient to undergo cataract surgery was Yassir Harriri a nine-month-old infant. His father, Kamal Harriri was appreciative of the treatment provided to his son. “Mashalla, everything was wonderful. The doctors and nurses gave my son the best treatment, saving his eyesight. We are very fortunate and thankful. God bless Qatar. “
Yasser will be back to undergo the second surgery on his other eye.
Dr. Abdulrauf Kambuh, Senior Attending Physician and Acting Chief said: “This procedure is quite delicate and requires special equipment and expertise, coupled with precision teamwork for a positive result. Although it was challenging and took months to prepare for, we believe we have a strong program for treating cataracts in children and infants in Qatar and the region.”
The Ophthalmology team also highlighted that rehabilitation after cataract surgery requires a strong commitment from the family or caregiver. Eye drops, frequent visits to the eye clinic along with rehabilitation performed by an orthoptist is required for long term success and best results.
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