For details information please see the Wikipedia entries:
General Eye Disease
Cataract Surgery

Hereditary Cataracts

Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up the eye's lens. However some cataracts are caused by inherited genetic disorders that increase the risk of cataracts.EFA encountered this family in Harar during the January 2013 campaign. The father and his three children all had cataracts. The younger two, a girl aged 5 and a boy aged two and a half had bilateral cataracts. We operated on all of them. The father first and then his older son. Treating children this age poses it’s own problems. For very young children it is only practical to operate under a full anaesthetic. But with older children we just anaesthetise the eye as with adults.The older son had never been in a hospital before but was aware enough to be very scared. Gary Holt befriended him and tried to allay his fears. We named him ‘Hyena Boy’ to try and bolster his spirits. We finally gave him half a sleeping tablet to relax him. This did the trick and his cataract was successfully treated.The younger siblings were operated on under general anaesthetic. As a rule with older patients with bilateral cataracts we remove only one cataract. That way we can treat a greater number of people. However with young children with their whole lives ahead of them we treat both eyes. This increases the risk as it requires them to have two general anaesthetics. We operate on one eye first and the second eye a day later after checking there are no complications from the first operation.Both the young children had minimal vision before their treatment. It is very difficult to assess what vision a young child has because of communication difficulties. However these two had vastly improved vision. From being almost blind they were able to focus on and reach out for a set of keys held up in front of them.It is not often that we come across a whole family with cataracts like this. With all their operations they had to stay for 5 days so we got quite attached to them. It was very rewarding to see the difference we were able to make to this family’s future.

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