A congenital cataract is defined as a clouding of the lens present from birth.
Even if the major risk of this pathology is impaired visual development, it is the most common cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. It is estimated that there are currently 200,000 children blind with cataracts worldwide.
“2 years ago, when the doctor told me that my daughter Malaika suffered from this disease, I was so shocked that I passed out!” the 36-year-old mom told us. Today, despite a severe decrease in visual acuity, this 9-year-old girl attends our Divine Help School of Pasbwadòm. Over a year ago the glasses Malaika had been wearing broke. For lack of means, the mom was not able to buy her daughter a replacement pair.
“I pray all the time for my daughter to get well. But I am terribly scared because the pupils of my last-born are now turning white,” Jasmѐne told us with a heartbroken voice.
It is not surprising that Malaika’s little brother Obed, 12 months old, also shows signs of this pathology. Indeed, the etiologies of congenital cataracts are often genetic and hereditary, linked to metabolic disorders or intrauterine infections.
Whatever the origin, the treatment involves the surgical removal of the cataract lens as well as the adequate correction of the associated lesions. The age of treatment is the most important prognostic factor for visual recovery.
Due to a delay in consultation with parents, but also and especially a lack of systematic screening in maternity, the treatment is often too late, leading to the occurrence of irreversible lesions and blindness.
Congenital cataracts remain a common cause of blindness and/or low vision in our context due to lack of proper prenatal care during pregnancies, delayed diagnosis, and management. But there is still hope for Malaika and Obed. Only care and compassion for these two children will be able to help them escape life in darkness.
Please donate toward Water For Life’s Cataract Program to enlighten the lives of these children!