However, the conventional wisdom on curing blindness in children is changing. In some cases, children who were as old as fifteen years when they underwent treatment were able to learn how to see at least to some extent.
Five out of eleven children who had been born with cataracts and not treated until they were at least eight years old showed remarkable improvement in seeing contrast six months after their surgery. While, this may sound like a modest improvement, discriminating between shades of gray is critical for many visual activities, like reading.
Some of the shapes used for testing sensitivity to contrast.
Image courtesy of Luis Lesmes and Michael Dorr
Perhaps more significant, some children even learned to recognize objects by sight, though it didn’t happen immediately. When they first gained the ability to see, the kids couldn’t recognize an object without feeling it.
These results show doctors that it is worthwhile to restore sight to children, even if they are fifteen years old when they are first given the opportunity to undergo treatment. Contrary to prior thought, the window on developing normal vision does not close very early in childhood.
Sinha P, Chatterjee G, Gandhi T, & Kalia A (2013). Restoring vision through "Project Prakash": the opportunities for merging science and service. PLoS biology, 11 (12) PMID: 24358024.