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Cataracts in children

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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When compared to adult cataracts, childhood cataracts are much less common with around 200 affected children born each year (1)

  • around 3 children of every 10,000 born in the UK each year will be diagnosed with congenital or infantile cataract by their first birthday with two thirds of them being bilateral cataracts
  • this figure increases by 1 further child of every 10,000 by 15 years of age (2)

A small number of children may develop cataract later in their childhood which can either be due to

  • damage caused by injury or eye surgery for another problem
  • cataract which was present at birth but was detected later in life (1)

Lens opacities that are visually significant before 2-3 months of age have much more potential impact on the child's visual development than those acquired later (3)

Cataracts may be associated with multisystem genetic disorders, such as chromosome abnormalities, Lowe syndrome or neurofibromatosis type 2 (4)

Paediatric cataract can be:

  • congenital - hereditary/genetic, intrauterine infection related e.g - TORCH
  • developmental - genetic, metabolic e.g. - galactokinase deficiency
  • acquired - traumatic, post radiotherapy


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