Cataracts in Children

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A cataract is a cloudy area over the lens of the eye (which is normally clear). This cloudiness prevents light from properly reaching the retina at the back of the eye, which affects your child’s ability to see. They may affect one or both eyes. Cataracts in children are rare.

Causes of Cataracts in Children

There are several ways that children may develop cataracts. These are:

  • Born with cataract (usually this is genetic or occurs along with other eye or health conditions)
  • Trauma to the eye
  • Diabetes
  • Poisoning
  • Steroid use
  • Complications from other eye diseases, such as glaucoma, or other illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms vary between children and may mimic the symptoms of other health conditions. Signs that your child may have cataracts include: 

  • Cloudy, blurred or other issues with vision
  • Pupil appears white when a light is shone into it
  • Misaligned eyes
  • Involuntary rhythmic eye movements (called nystagmus)
  • When looking at lights, your child complains that they are too bright or have glare
  • Seeing a halo around an object

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA Health Children's

Your child’s health care provider will examine your child’s eyes. The provider may dilate your child’s pupils to see inside the eye for any signs of clouding or damage. The provider may also assess your child’s vision.

Treatment varies depending on the cause and severity of the case. Your child may need glasses or contacts. Surgery may also be an option.