Cataracts in Children | Frequently Asked Questions

Why must my baby's cataract be treated right away?

An eye with a cataract can’t provide visual information to the brain. If this occurs while the brain is “learning to see,” it may learn to ignore that eye. And since vision occurs when the brain and the eye work together, your child may never be able to see with that eye, even if the cataract is eventually removed.

Do all cataracts need to be removed?

No, in some cases, the cataract may be just a dot in the middle of the lens that doesn't have to be removed because there’s room for light to get around it. Sometimes figuring out whether a cataract needs to be removed requires lots of experience and expertise, so it’s crucial that your child be evaluated by an eye doctor who sees many babies and children with cataracts.

Will my child require ultrasonography to break up her lens before it can be removed?

Probably not. Ultrasounds are used in cataract surgery for adults to break up hard lenses that are usually caused by aging. Most children don’t need ultrasound because their lenses are soft. 

Do all cataracts affect vision?

No – sometimes a cataract may be so small that your child perceives no blurriness at all. But one thing to keep in mind is that unlike your circulatory or respiratory system, your experience of your visual system completely depends on how you use it.

Will my child’s cataract get worse?

This is hard to predict – some cataracts progress, and some don’t. And sometimes a child’s vision might seem like it’s starting to worsen because their visual needs are changing, even if the cataract itself isn’t changing.  

Can cataracts be prevented?

Not really, although it’s important that kids wear eye protection when playing sports to lessen the chance of eye injury. 

Are intraocular lenses noticeable?

Most often, the implant is invisible. Some parents say that the eye with the implant seems to have a “sparkle” or “glint” if light catches it just right, but that certainly doesn't cause any problems for your child.

Will my child need to wear glasses?

Most children will need to wear glasses after intraocular lens implants. Natural lenses can shift focus from far to near, but intraocular lenses can only focus on one place. Once children can sit up, they may need bifocals to help them focus up close and far away. If your child has been prescribed reading glasses or bifocals, they might not need to wear them all the time.