Cataracts occur when the clear lens inside the eye, similar to a lens in a pair of glasses, becomes cloudy and difficult for light to traverse through. Children may be born with cataracts which can pose permanent problems with visual development. If left untreated or undiagnosed, the child may become visually handicapped due to visual loss and amblyopia.
Cataracts in children occur in approximately 1:5000 births. Not all pediatric cataracts require surgery, only those that interfere with the visual axis and visual development of the child.
In cases of small cataracts, treatment may include dilating eye drops to assist in the light reaching the affected eye’s retina. In cases of larger cataracts, surgery is indicated to remove the opacity that is preventing the child from seeing. After removal of the cataract, many children will require frequent eye drops postoperatively and possible patching for amblyopia. The child may also require glasses postoperatively.