Surgical interventions for bilateral congenital cataract

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jul 19;2006(3):CD003171. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003171.pub2.


Background: Congenital cataracts are opacities of the lens in one or both eyes of children that cause a reduction in vision severe enough to require surgery. Cataract is the largest treatable cause of visual loss in childhood. Paediatric cataracts provide different challenges to those in adults. Intense inflammation, amblyopia and posterior capsule opacification can affect results of treatment. Two treatments commonly considered for congenital cataract are lensectomy and lens aspiration.

Objectives: The objective of this review was to assess the effects of surgical treatments for bilateral symmetrical congenital cataracts. Success was measured according to the vision attained and occurrence of adverse events.

Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) on The Cochrane Library, which contains the Cochrane Eyes and Vision Group Trials Register (2005, Issue 2), MEDLINE (1966 to June 2005), EMBASE (1980 to June 2005, week 27), LILACS (6 July 2005), the Science Citation Index and the reference list of the included studies. We also contacted trial investigators and experts in the field for details of further studies.

Selection criteria: We included all prospective, randomised controlled trials that compared one type of cataract surgery to another, or to no surgery, in children with bilateral congenital cataracts aged 15 years or younger.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors extracted data. No meta-analysis was performed.

Main results: Four trials met the inclusion criteria. All trials were concerned with reducing the development of visual axis opacification (VAO). This was achieved with techniques that included an anterior vitrectomy or optic capture. Posterior capsulotomy alone was inadequate except in older children.

Authors' conclusions: Evidence exists for the care of children with congenital or developmental bilateral cataracts to reduce the occurrence of visual axis opacification. Further randomised trials are required to inform modern practice about other concerns including the timing of surgery, age for implantation of an intraocular lens and development of long-term complications such as glaucoma and retinal detachment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cataract / congenital*
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Cataract Extraction / adverse effects
  • Cataract Extraction / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity