"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

How progressive congenital cataracts can result in blindness.

In the brand new Netflix series All that light we cannot see, a blind French girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc conducts an illegal radio broadcast from her uncle's house in Nazi-occupied France. We are told that Mary LaVar has congenital cataracts in each eyes. But what is that this condition?

The word “cataract” comes from the Latin word cataract and describes a condition where the normally clear lens of the attention becomes cloudy or opaque. This prevents a transparent image from being projected on the back of the attention and causes visual impairment.

Many people have heard of cataracts within the context of older adults since the lens becomes cloudy throughout life, causing vision to progressively blur. Surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a transparent plastic one is common and quite routine lately. In fact, cataract surgery in adults is one in every of them. The most common operation Performed in health care systems worldwide.

However, about three in 10,000 are children. Born with cataracts (congenital cataract) and this can be a rather more urgent problem. In very early childhood, the brain learns to see and so anything that causes visual disturbances have to be handled quickly to permit the brain time to regulate.

In modern health care systems, most kids with cataracts are operated on before the age of ten weeks to forestall lifelong vision loss. Some children are born with mild cataracts after which they develop (turn out to be cloudy), as we are able to assume was the case with the fictional character Mary-Laure. Today, these children are watched closely because they could develop cataracts. Slow, or very fast growthdepending on their cause.

Surgery is obtainable when the potential advantages outweigh the risks. My Laura's story is totally different. In the Nineteen Forties, surgery was very dangerous and a far cry from modern microsurgery under general anesthetic. Most of the youngsters had no treatment.

In cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is replaced.
Sympotech Photography/Shutterstock

Treatment today could be very different.

In most developed health care systems in 2023, newborns are routinely screened after birth and a part of that is to search for eye problems, including cataracts. This was not the case within the Nineteen Forties, and so exactly how and at what age Mary-Laure developed cataracts will not be clear. This is essential, because there are numerous different underlying causes of congenital cataracts, including conditions affecting only the eyes, conditions affecting other parts of the body. Nance Horan syndromeand even life-limiting metabolic diseases.

Today, when cataracts are present in infants or children, doctors search for the condition through genetic testing and other blood tests.

Importantly, congenital cataracts that worsen in childhood (as in Mary Laver's story) usually tend to be attributable to conditions that affect other parts of the body, and so it is feasible That Mary-Laure had other medical problems. Related to the underlying condition.

A critic Complimented All the Light We Cannot See being “a significant leap forward for disability inclusion, rights and representation on screen and beyond.” Marie-Laure plays the teenage role. Aria Mia LabertiAn American actor who suffers from a congenital eye disease. Achromatopsia. And played by young Mary-Laure. Neil Suttonwhich is referred to as one other rare condition. Congenital glaucoma.

Achromatopsia causes low vision, moving eyes and no color vision in any respect, and congenital glaucoma causes the pressure contained in the eye to turn out to be too high and, if left untreated, can result in vision loss and cataracts. Hair becomes larger than its normal size. In the Nineteen Forties little was known about any of those conditions or, indeed, treat them.

Medical treatment, surgery and support have modified enormously for the reason that Nineteen Forties, but despite this, the challenges facing young individuals with low vision are still very real.