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Pediatric Cataracts Vision Screening & Detection FAQs

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A cataract is a cloudiness or opacity in the lens of the eye, which is normally clear.

Cataracts range in size. Small cataracts may not interfere with vision at all, while large cataracts can result in severe vision problems, including loss of vision.

Yes, it can be, depending on its size. The revised guidelines for amblyopia risk factors published by the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) in 2012 consider any media opacity, such as a cataract, that is greater than 1 millimeter (1 mm) in size to be a risk factor for amblyopia, which is the leading cause of vision loss among children and young adults.

Cataracts are very rare in infants and children. Only about 3 out of every 10,000 children have a cataract, according to AAPOS. They are much more common in older adults.

It depends on the type of pediatric vision screening whether or not a cataract will be detected. If vision screening is performed only with a traditional eye chart, then cataracts may not be detected unless the child’s vision is impacted enough that their visual acuity is impacted enough to be discovered by the vision screening. However, cataracts frequently will show up on the digital images captured by screening instruments such as the iScreen Vision Screener 3000 photoscreener. This type of screening is often referred to as Cataract Vision screening, Cataract Vision Testing, Pediatric Cataract Vision Screening, or Pediatric Cataract Vision Testing.

In order for proper vision to occur, light enters the eye and is projected to the inner surface of the back of the eye, which is known as the retina. The retina then transmits visual signals to the brain. If a cataract blocks or severely distorts the light before it reaches the retina, then a child’s light is blocked or distorted by a cataract before it reaches the retina, the image received by the retina may be blurred or blocked completely.  This can hinder normal visual development in the child and cause amblyopia.

Cataracts in babies are often a result of a lens which developed abnormally during pregnancy. They can be, but are not necessarily, genetic.

If cataracts are identified and treated early, before they cause vision loss such as amblyopia, then they will not necessarily accompany other visual problems. But if they are not identified, cataracts or other media opacities can lead to amblyopia, or vision loss. Do all cataracts in babies and children need to be removed?

No. If a cataract is small enough or in a section of the lens where they are unlikely to impact normal visual development, then a cataract may not need to be removed at all. If the cataract does need to be removed, then an ophthalmologist will make a small incision in the eye and will suction out the source of the cloudiness.

These FAQs discuss topics including: Cataracts, Cataract Vision Screening, Cataract Vision Testing, Pediatric Cataract Vision Screening, and Pediatric Cataract Vision Testing.