Congenital and infantile cataract: aetiology and management

Eur J Pediatr. 2012 Apr;171(4):625-30. doi: 10.1007/s00431-012-1700-1. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


Congenital cataract is the commonest worldwide cause of lifelong visual loss in children. Although congenital cataracts have a diverse aetiology, in many children, a cause is not identified; however, autosomal dominant inheritance is commonly seen. Early diagnosis either on the post-natal ward or in the community is important because appropriate intervention can result in good levels of visual function. However, visual outcome is largely dependent on the timing of surgery when dense cataracts are present. Good outcomes have been reported in children undergoing surgery before 6 weeks of age in children with unilateral cataract and before 10 weeks of age in bilateral cases. Placement of an artificial intraocular lens implant after removal of the cataract has become established practice in children over 2 years of age. There remains debate over the safety and predictability of intraocular lens implantation in infants. Despite early surgery and aggressive optical rehabilitation, children may still develop deprivation amblyopia, nystagmus, strabismus, and glaucoma. The diagnosis and management of congenital cataracts has improved substantially over the past 30 years with a concurrent improvement in outcomes for affected children. Many aspects of the pre-, intra-, and postoperative management of these patients continue to be refined, highlighting the need for good quality data and prospective collaborative studies in this field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / prevention & control
  • Amblyopia / therapy
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cataract / congenital
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Cataract / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular
  • Pseudophakia
  • Visual Acuity