What is a cataract?

Normally, babies are born with a transparent lens in each eye. The lens focuses objects on the retina, and it brings objects into focus, making it possible for the eye to see, Instead of a transparent lens, some babies are born with a milky white lens, which is too cloudy to focus on objects. This condition is called congenital cataracts. The opaque lens keeps light from passing through to the retina, so images and objects cannot be seen.

What are the causes?

Heredity is a common cause of congenital cataracts in babies. Other causes include infection, inflammation, drug reactions. When mothers come down with measels, ruebella, or other infections while they are pregnant, the child may also be born with cataracts in one or both eyes. Your eye care professional or family doctor may be able to help you determine the cause.

In rare cases, children develop cataracts in the first few years of their lives; this is normally due to trauma to the eye or cataracts initially being overlooked.

Symptoms may include:

  • Grey or white cloudiness in the black part of the eye (pupil)
  • "Red eye" missing in photos or the eyes appear different in photos
  • Rapid eye movements

How can it be treated?

Cataracts in newborn babies should be addressed as early as possible, preferably within the first three months of life, because obstructed vision can prevent important stages of their development. Left untreated congenital cataracts may cause "lazy eye" or amblyopia.

The surgical procedure for cataracts in babies is much like it is for adults, involving the removal of the affected lens in the eye. Depending on your baby’s age and eye development, the surgeon may implant an intraocular lens to replace the original.

Following cataract surgery, your baby will need glasses or contact lenses to see before a permanent intraocular lens is implanted. It’s difficult for a baby to wear glasses on a daily basis, so many doctors choose contact lenses as a more practical solution for babies after cataract surgery.

SilSoft Pediatric Patient Assistance Program

Your doctor may choose to use SilSoft SuperPlus (Pediatric) contact lenses for aphakic which are designed for children who have had cataract surgery where an intraocular lens has not been implanted (aphakia). Some patients may qualify for the SilSoft Pediatric Patient Assistance Program a program to provide free lenses to families at or below the federal poverty level. Talk to your eye care professional to determine if your family is eligible.