Background: Cataract is responsible for about 10% blindness among children in India. Etiology of cataract is not well defined especially for childhood cataracts and epidemiological data for Indian population is not available in details.
Aim: This study was performed to survey the causes of childhood cataracts and to identify the preventable factors in four western states of India.
Settings and design: The present study is a hospital-based, prospective study on 172 consecutive pediatric cataract patients.
Material and methods: Type of cataract was determined using slit-lamp bio-microscopy or operation microscope after mild general anesthesia especially on very young babies. Other anomalies of eye were determined using appropriate ophthalmic instruments. Parents of the patients were interviewed in their native language using a standardized questionnaire. Biochemical and microbiological tests such as for rubella, reducing sugar and blood glucose were also performed.
Results: Out of 172 children, 88.4% had non-traumatic cataract and 11.6% had traumatic cataracts. Among non-traumatic cataracts, 7.2% were hereditary, 4.6% were due to congenital rubella syndrome, 15.1% were secondary and 73.0% were undetermined. In the group of undetermined cases, during pregnancy 67% of the mother had history of illness, and 22% had taken medications during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Our study shows that nearly 12% of non-traumatic cataract is due to potentially preventable causes. Health education of women to childbearing age and school children can decrease incidence of pediatric cataracts.