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A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye. Because it is not a film over the lens, it can't be removed with a laser or eye drops. Cataract surgery in children is performed in the operating room under general anesthesia. The ophthalmologist uses microscopic surgical instruments to remove the cloudy lens. Once the lens is removed, the child will need a substitute lens to focus images on the retina. In some cases a plastic intraocular lens (IOL) lens may be implanted in the eye during surgery to replace the natural lens.
Children who have cataract surgery require careful and continued treatment to preserve vision and to prevent amblyopia ("lazy eye"). After cataract surgery, treatment usual involves eyeglasses, bifocals, contact lenses, and/or eye-patching therapy.