Cataract and Glaucoma (Pediatric)

What is a cataract?

A cataract is a clouding of the crystalline lens within the eye, rendering the eye unable to focus light properly. The severity can range from mild and inconsequential to severe and sight-threatening. Although cataracts are generally thought to be something that only affects older individuals, children, and even newborns can have them. Significant cataract can often be detected by the primary care physician as part of the general examination of the eyes.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an abnormal elevation of intraocular pressure within the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve, and loss of vision. Like cataract, glaucoma can also occur in childhood or infancy. In fact, childhood cataract is often associated with the subsequent development of glaucoma. Detection of glaucoma is children can be challenging, and large-scale screening is not feasible due to the rarity of the condition. A cloudy cornea, persistent light sensitivity or tearing, and an apparent enlargement in the size of the eye are potential signs of glaucoma in young children, and should be promptly evaluated by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to success, and this often involves surgery, glasses, and frequent follow-up care.