Children's Hospital Colorado
Eye Care

Cataracts in Kids

Kids aren’t just mini adults. In fact, they’re incredibly different. That’s why they need incredibly different care.

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What are cataracts?

A cataract is cloudiness in the lens of the eye. In a healthy eye, the lens is clear, allowing light to pass through and produce a clear image. When a child has a cataract, light can’t fully pass through the cloudy lens, which creates a blurry image. Children can have a small cataract that doesn’t affect vision but a large cataract can cause vision loss.

Types of pediatric cataracts

The eye lens has two parts: the nucleus, which is the center, and the cortex, which surrounds the nucleus. Both parts of the lens are inside a capsular bag, which supports the lens and maintains its position in the eye. Cataracts vary in size and location in the different parts of the lens. Types of cataracts include:

  • Anterior polar cataract: at the front of the lens; frequently treated without surgery
  • Lamellar cataract: in between the center and surrounding layer of the lens
  • Nuclear cataract: in the center of the lens
  • Posterior subcapsular cataract: at the back of the lens in the cortex near the edge of the capsule
  • Posterior polar cataract: at the back of the lens, in the center
  • Persistent fetal vasculature: caused by abnormal development of the lens during pregnancy and can be harder to treat than other cataracts, depending on which parts of the eye are involved
  • Traumatic cataract: occurs when the lens is damaged after an eye injury

What causes cataracts in babies and children?

Pediatric cataracts can develop during pregnancy when the lens of the eye doesn't form correctly. This is a type of congenital cataract, meaning that the baby is born with it. Cataracts can also develop later in childhood on their own or can be caused by trauma or injury to the eye.

Who gets cataracts?

Three in every 10,000 children have cataracts. Children can get cataracts genetically through their parents, or cataracts can develop on their own.

Next steps

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    Learn more about the Pediatric Ophthalmology department
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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Scott Arnold, OD

Scott Arnold, OD

Optometry

Prem Subramanian, MD

Prem Subramanian, MD

Ophthalmology

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Melissa Engle, OD

Melissa Engle, OD

Optometry