Pediatric Cataract

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What are Pediatric Cataracts?

A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification in the normally clear and transparent lens of the eye. Significant clouding can interfere with the passage of light to the retina and blurs vision. Although cataracts generally occur in older adults, infants and children can also be affected. Some types of pediatric cataracts appear at birth, while others become evident during childhood.

Cataracts present at birth are known as congenital cataracts. Possible causes of congenital cataract may include genetic factors, viral infection during pregnancy, or premature birth. Cataracts that develop during childhood are often the result of eye injury or a disease process involving other parts of the body. Other causes include abnormal lens growth or the late appearance of an inherited cataract. Early detection and treatment of cataracts are crucial in infants and young children for normal visual development to occur. Amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye," can develop if one or both eyes are deprived of clear vision.

Signs and Symptoms of Cataracts

Cataracts cause the eye pupil to appear white, turning in and out of the eye. Other cataract symptoms can include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Halos around lights
  • Progressive vision loss
  • Double vision in one eye

Related Eye Conditions

  1. Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  2. Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  3. Refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia)farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism
  4. Congenital glaucoma
  5. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
  6. Congenital ptosis
  7. Pediatric eye infections
  8. Childhood eye injuries

Additionally, retinal disorders such as retinoblastoma (a rare eye cancer), retinal detachment, and inherited retinal diseases, can affect children and may require specialized treatment to preserve vision.

Pediatric Cataract Treatment at UCLA Health

Small pediatric cataracts that do not interfere with vision may only require periodic observation to ensure that the eye continues to develop well. Childhood cataracts that do interfere with vision may require treatment with eyeglasses, contact lenses, an eye patch or surgery, used alone or in combination. Pediatric cataracts that significantly obstruct vision require immediate surgery.

Learn about the process of Pediatric Cataract Extraction at UCLA Health.