Infants born with cataracts must get treatment immediately - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Infants born with cataracts must get treatment immediately

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You probably know an older loved one or friend with cataracts. That's a condition where the lense of the eye, usually clear, becomes cloudy.

Not everyone knows babies can be born with cataracts, something that needs to be treated right away.

Parker, who's almost 2, and her 7-month-old sister Shay are unusually comfortable during an eye exam. They're used to it because they were born with cataracts.

The girls' father, 38-year-old Joe Caruso was also born with the condition. But he and his wife Natalie say their older daughter's diagnosis was unexpected.

"I knew the minute she was born. I had a gut feeling," father Joe Caruso said.

"It was a devastating day for us," mother Natalie Caruso said.

Dr. William Anninger of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia says cataracts in babies is rare but affects hundreds in the Philadelphia area every year.

"Sometimes you can see a clear white, whiteness right in the middle of the pupil in the lense. But often times it's unnoticeable," ophthalmologist Dr. Anninger said.

Parents should be on the lookout for a baby that is visually engaged.

"By around two or three months of age you want your baby to be really locking on to you, following you about the room," Anninger said.

The Caruso sisters had their cataracts surgically removed. Dr. Anninger says if vision is impaired surgery must be done early in life.

"If you leave it in, the child will be blind in that eye even you if you remove it for example at your age because if you leave them with no vision for the first year of life, that eye will not be able to see," Anninger said.

The Caruso's say the girls are seeing well with the help of contact lenses. Joe is so grateful for his vision he named his youngest daughter Shay after the Penn doctor who treated him.

"The fact that I can see and can operate as a normal human being, is.. I'm lucky," Caruso said.

Doctors who treat these children say cataracts have shown up in fewer than one percent of all infants, but if you notice your child is having trouble with their vision, you should take action right away.

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