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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this surgery and invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the surgery and how you can help.
A cataract (CAT-er-akt) is an abnormality in the lens of the eye. The lens of the eye is similar to the lens of a camera—it helps you focus on objects both near and far away. To work well, the lens must be clear.
As we age, the lens slowly becomes cloudy, so most adults who live into their 60s will eventually get at least some mild cataracts.
Unlike in adults, cataracts in children are often serious and can sometimes cause a permanent loss of vision.
Depending on the type of cataract, newborns may require cataract surgery within the first 1-2 months of life because the brain is in a period of rapid visual development.
Although common in adults, cataracts are unusual in children and are often the result of injury to the eye or in association with other medical conditions.
Cataract extraction (ex-TRACK-shun) is a surgery to remove the cloudy lens from the eye. The surgeon makes a small incision (cut) on the surface of the eye near the clear part of the eye called the cornea. A small instrument is inserted into the incision and the cloudy lens material is removed from the eye.
Depending on the age of your child and the condition of his or her eye, the doctor might replace your child’s cloudy lens with a small, plastic lens called an intraocular (in-tra-OCK-yoo-ler) lens. This intraocular lens, also known as an implant or artificial lens, is used to help the eye focus after surgery. The lenses come in different strengths, like glasses, and the surgeon will do several measurements to decide which lens strength is right for your child. The implant will allow your child to use thinner glasses or a lower power contact lens after the surgery.
If your child is very young at the time of the cataract extraction, or if your child has had a serious eye injury, an intraocular lens may not be implanted at the time of the surgery. Your child might need to have a future eye surgery to implant the intraocular lens when he or she is older, or when the eye injury has healed.
Most children will go home with an eye patch and a shield. You will be given a prescription for eye drops to give your child to prevent infection and to reduce swelling after the surgery.
In the 2 weeks before the surgery, do not give your child any aspirin or ibuprofen. That includes Motrin®, Advil®, Bayer®, Pediaprofen®, Aspergum®, Pepto Bismol® and Alka Seltzer®. Your child may take Tylenol®.
The day before the surgery, do not allow your child to get any kind of vaccination.
When general anesthesia is needed, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the surgery. One business day before your child’s surgery, you will receive a phone call from a nurse between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m. (Nurses do not make these calls on weekends or holidays.) Please have paper and a pen ready to write down these important instructions.
For children older than 12 months:
For infants under 12 months:
For all children:
The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the surgery. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
A pediatric anesthesiologist—a doctor who specializes in anesthesia for children—will give the medications that will make your child sleep during the surgery.
Before the procedure, a member of the anesthesia staff will meet with you to take your child’s vital signs, weight and medical history. As the parent or legal guardian, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the anesthesia is given.
This surgery is done through the Same Day Surgery Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Oakland.
When you check in at the registration desk, you will be asked for the clearance form from your child’s primary care physician (PCP). This PCP form was given to you at the appointment with the ophthalmologist when you scheduled your child’s surgery.
Once your child is registered, you and your child will be called to the examining room.
While your child is asleep, his or her heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen level will be checked continuously.
When your child is moved to the recovery room, you will be called so that you can be there as he or she wakes up. While your child is in recovery, your surgeon will talk to you about the surgery. This is a good time to ask questions about pain medications, diet and activity.
When your child is discharged from the hospital, he or she still might be groggy and should take it easy for the rest of the day.
You will need to bring your child to see the doctor 1 day after the surgery.
The following symptoms may be cause for concern:
If your child has any of these symptoms, you should call the surgeon’s office at 412-692-8940 immediately. If you are calling during the evening or on a weekend, please call the hospital at 412-692-5325 and ask to page the ophthalmology resident on call.
Division of Ophthalmology
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
412-692-5325 evenings and weekends
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
With myCHP, you can request appointments, review test results, and more.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.