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A cataract is a cloudiness or opacification in the normally clear and transparent lens of the eye. When significant, this clouding interferes 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 cataract 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
Eye pupil looks white, turning in and out of the eye
Related Eye Conditions
Small pediatric cataracts that do not interfere with vision may only require periodic observation to ensure that the eye continues to develop well. 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.