Different type of paediatric cataract
Cataracts in a child can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (develop as an infant, child, or adolescent).
Cataracts can happen in one or both eyes. When both eyes have a cataract, one can be worse than the other.
Cataracts may appear in different parts of the lens and range in size from tiny dots to dense clouds.
Genetics, metabolic disorders like diabetes, and eye injury can all cause cataracts.
What are the symptoms of paediatric cataract?
Paediatric cataracts most often look different than other forms of cataract.
An infant does not seem to be visually aware of the world around them (if cataracts are in both eyes)
Gray or white cloudiness of the pupil (which is normally black)
The "red eye" glow of the pupil is missing in photos, or is different between the 2 eyes
Unusual rapid eye movements (nystagmus)
What to do if I suspect my child has cataract?
To diagnose a congenital cataract, the infant should have a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist. The infant may also need to be examined by a pediatrician who is experienced in treating inherited disorders.
Why does pediatric cataract needs early treatment?
Children's eyes and brains are still learning to see. This is why distortion can lead to lazy eyes in children. It can prevent permanent vision loss in children.
What is the treatment?
If congenital cataracts are mild and do not affect vision, they may not need surgery.
Moderate to severe cataracts that affect vision, or a cataract that is in only 1 eye, will need to be treated with cataract-removal surgery. In most cataract surgeries, an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is inserted into the eye.
If the eye is unsuitable for IOL insertion, the infant will need to wear a contact lens/ glasses,
For most children, surgery is just the first step to fixing the eyes. Ongoing treatment must help to correct progressive changes of the refractive error in a growing eye. After surgery, children often need some combination of:
It is of utmost importance that the child undergoes lazy eye/ amblyopia treatment. Patching the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker eye is often needed to prevent amblyopia.
Why do you need to see paediatric ophthalmologist?
Unlike adults with full-sized eyes, children need special surgical instruments and techniques. When performed by an experienced surgeon, cataract removal is generally safe.
Children who receive timely treatment and follow-up have a good prognosis. Your child may need years of vision rehabilitation to have a successful outcome.
Meet our specialist
Dr Norazah Abdul Rahman
Consultant Ophthalmologist, Paediatric Ophthalmologist and Strabismus Surgeon
Paediatrics Ophthalmology & Strabismus Surgery