What parents should know when cataracts occur in children.

When someone has a cataract, it means they have blurry vision because the lens of their eye is becoming less transparent.

In children, cataracts can be present at birth (congenital cataracts) or they can develop during childhood (juvenile cataracts. Sometimes cataracts are the primary diagnosis and in other cases, it’s a secondary diagnosis caused by another underlying medical condition.

Unfortunately, cataracts that appear in very young children tend to be more severe than those that occur later in life. Symptoms of cataracts in kids include decreased vision and possibly light sensitivity. When cataracts are present at birth, they may cause a dimming of the “red reflex” seen within the pupil.

Treatment for congenital and juvenile cataracts includes either observation in milder cases or surgery for more visually significant cataracts. Surgery involves removal of the cloudy lens and (depending on several factors such as the age of the patient) a decision is made to either place in intraocular lens implant or to leave the child without a lens (aphakia). After surgery, children will need either eyeglasses and/or special high-powered contact lenses for visual rehabilitation (to help them see better).


Find support groups and resources for families affected by congenital and juvenile cataracts.

The Pediatric Glaucoma and Cataract Family Association

An association of parents and professionals who promote the quality of life for children with glaucoma and cataracts and their families. Services include providing information, resources and support groups. pgcfa.org

Glasses for Young Children

When shopping for eyeglass frames for infants and small children, consider the following brands that are often recommended for the youngest eye care patients.