Understanding Pediatric Cataracts - SightMD Skip to main content

June 14, 2024

By: Michelle Liebert, MD

Understanding Pediatric Cataracts

Cataracts are not a condition exclusively reserved for the elderly; they can also affect the eyes of the very young. Pediatric cataracts, though less common, can significantly impact a child’s vision and development if not promptly addressed. Understanding the causes and treatment options is crucial for parents and guardians to ensure the health and well-being of their child’s eyesight.

Causes of Pediatric Cataracts

Pediatric cataracts occur when the lens of a child’s eye becomes cloudy, which can impede the passage of light and result in blurred or obstructed vision. There are several reasons why a child might develop cataracts:

Genetic Factors

Some children are born with cataracts as a result of genetic issues. These congenital cataracts can be inherited or caused by genetic syndromes that affect other body systems in addition to the eyes.

Metabolic Problems

Certain metabolic diseases that affect the body’s processing of carbohydrates, amino acids, or fats can lead to the development of cataracts in infants and children.


Injuries to the eye can cause traumatic cataracts in children. Even minor eye trauma should be evaluated by a pediatric ophthalmologist to prevent long-term issues.

Other Causes

Other causes might include complications from other eye surgeries, or conditions such as uveitis, which is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye.

Diagnosis of Pediatric Cataracts

Early detection of pediatric cataracts is key. Regular eye examinations are essential, especially if there’s a family history of cataracts or eye diseases. Pediatricians or family doctors may refer a child to a pediatric ophthalmologist if a cataract is suspected.

Treatment Options

The treatment for pediatric cataracts largely depends on how much the cataract is affecting the child’s vision. Treatment can range from monitoring the cataract’s progression to surgery.


If a cataract is small and does not significantly affect vision, careful monitoring may be all that’s required. Regular eye exams will be necessary to track any changes.

Non-Surgical Treatment

In some cases, stronger eyeglasses or contact lenses can help improve vision without the need for surgery. However, this is generally a temporary solution until surgery can be performed.


When a cataract interferes with a child’s learning and development, surgery is typically recommended. Pediatric cataract surgery involves the removal of the cloudy lens, often followed by the implantation of an artificial lens.

Post-Surgery Care

Post-operative care is crucial for recovery. This may include the use of eye patches, glasses, or contact lenses, as well as regular follow-ups with the pediatric ophthalmologist.


Pediatric cataracts can pose serious challenges to a child’s vision. Understanding the potential causes and available treatments allows parents to act quickly and effectively. With prompt and proper care, most children with cataracts can go on to have healthy vision.

If you suspect your child may have a cataract or if they are due for a routine eye exam, contact SightMD today to ensure their vision is clear and they are on track for healthy eye development.