A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. The lens is located inside the eye behind the iris (the colored part of the eye). The lens gets cloudier with age and can cause vision problems.
What causes cataracts is not known, but many things may make cataracts more likely to form, such as:
A child may be born with cataracts or develop them at an early age. These cataracts, called congenital cataracts, may be caused by:
They also may be inherited.
Cataracts don't spread from one eye to the other, but many people have cataracts in both eyes. The cataract can be worse in one eye compared to the other.
Symptoms may include:
Cataracts do not usually cause complete blindness. However, it is possible to lose enough vision to make it hard to recognize objects.
Cataracts are often found during a routine eye exam. An eye care provider will evaluate your symptoms and talk with you about the best treatment.
Cataracts in young children should be removed to help prevent other eye problems. Cataracts in children are often linked to other problems with the eyes. This means the vision may not get better after cataracts are removed.
Cataract surgery is done to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new plastic lens in the eye. Lasers are not used to remove cataracts.
Surgery to remove cataracts can be very successful in restoring vision. Although a cataract cannot grow back, your child may develop a cloudy film over the covering of the lens months to years later. This membrane can be removed using a laser.
Having your child wear goggles or safety glasses during activities where your child’s eyes could be injured can lower the risk of eye injuries, This can prevent the possible development of cataracts. Wearing glasses with a UV coating that protects the eyes from sunlight might prevent or delay some types of cataracts, but this is not proven.
If your child has diabetes, good blood sugar control may slow the growth of cataracts.