Children's Hospital Colorado

Cataracts in Kids

What is a cataract?

A cataract is cloudiness in the lens of the eye. In a healthy eye, the lens is clear, allowing light to pass through to produce a clear image. When a child (or adult) has a cataract, light cannot pass through the lens. The cataract (cloudiness) causes a blurry image. A child can have a small cataract that does not affect vision or a large cataract causing vision loss.

Types of pediatric cataracts

The 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 capsule. Cataracts vary in size and location in the different parts of lens. Types of cataracts include:

  • 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
  • Anterior polar cataract: at the front of the lens; frequently treated without surgery
  • Posterior polar cataract: at the back of the lens, in the center

What causes cataracts in babies and children?

Pediatric cataracts develop during pregnancy when the lens of the eye doesn't form normally. Cataracts can already be developed when a baby is born, or they can develop later in childhood. Trauma or injury to the eye can also cause a cataract immediately or later on in life.

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.

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Scott Arnold, OD

Scott Arnold, OD

Optometry

Alexandra Levitt, MD

Alexandra Levitt, MD

Ophthalmology

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Jennifer Jung, MD

Jennifer Jung, MD

Ophthalmology

Melissa Engle, OD

Melissa Engle, OD

Optometry