Cataracts Affect More than just the Elderly

Cataracts Affect More than just the Elderly 

Cataracts are often considered to be the domain of the elderly. While this is generally correct, there are instances where cataracts can affect a person of any age. From genetic cataracts to those that are trauma-induced, understanding a little more about these less-common cataracts can help ensure vision is as good as possible at any age 

Cataracts in Children and Following Trauma 

  • Cataracts in the young
  • Cataract from injury 

Cataracts in the young

Cataracts in young people fall into two distinct categories: 

  • Juvenile or childhood cataracts
  • Congenital cataracts 

Childhood cataracts are diagnosed in older babies or children. The latter are present from birth or shortly afterward.  It must be stressed that cataracts in the young are very rare, with around 3 or 4 in every 10,000 being affected.

Such cataracts can affect one or both eyes. In the same way as cataracts in adults, they can impact vision. In addition, they can cause other issues, such as squint, lazy eye, or wobbling eyes—also known as nystagmus.

Newborns undergo an eye examination soon after birth. If cataracts are suspected, they’ll be referred to a specialist straight away. Babies will also have a further test for the condition at around 6-8 weeks. 

Risk factors for congenital or juvenile cataracts include:

  • Genetics passed from the parents
  • Eye injury during or soon after birth
  • Infections during pregnancy, such as chickenpox or rubella
  • Other genetic conditions, including Down’s syndrome. 

Cataracts from injury

Injury, or trauma, can cause a cataract to form. This could be any type of injury, including blunt trauma, penetrating trauma, or even trauma caused by a serious electric shock.

Very rarely, radiation exposure can cause cataracts to form months or years later. This includes infrared radiation and ionizing radiation.  

Treatment of Cataracts: young and trauma-induced 

  • Specialist cataract treatment

Specialist cataract treatment

Cataracts in the young often have little effect on vision. In such cases, monitoring often makes up the majority of the treatment. However, cataracts that cause visual issues will be dealt with as a priority. This is because they can slow or stop normal eye development. In turn, this can affect other areas of development as well.

The most usual treatment is surgery to remove the affected lens. Sometimes this will be replaced with an artificial lens. However, it’s more usually managed with contact lenses or eyeglasses to allow the child to focus. If your child is affected by cataracts, it’s important to know that most children do not go on to develop serious visual problems.

Surgery for congenital cataracts is usually carried out at around 4-8 weeks of age. A specialist pediatric ophthalmologist will perform the procedure. For those with a cataract in a single eye, it might be necessary for the child to wear a patch—a procedure known as occlusion therapy. This is temporary and is worn over the unaffected eye. It helps train the brain to recognize the signals it receives from the affected eye, which it might not do if the good eye were not blocked.

While it can be extremely worrying to know that your child is affected by cataracts, today’s advanced treatments provide a very positive outcome.  

Trauma-induced cataracts will usually follow a similar treatment plan as cataracts in the elderly. 

Modern Cataract Surgery at the WBEC is a Center of Excellence for Cataracts in the Young and Traumatic Cataracts

Expert care is essential for less-common cataracts. Modern Cataract Surgery at the West Boca Eye Center is a world-leading clinic headed by renowned cataract surgeon, Brent Bellotte MD. If your child has been diagnosed with the condition or you’ve developed it following injury, then you naturally want the very best treatment.

Head to the dedicated information page at and get in touch to book a consultation.


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