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What is a cataract?

A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the lens located directly behind the iris inside the eye. Normally, the lens is clear and allows light entering the eye to clearly focus an image on the retina. When cataracts develop, the light rays become scattered as they pass through the cloudy lens and the retinal image becomes blurred and distorted.

How will cataracts affect my child's vision?

Many of the cataracts that are discovered in newborns are small and allow for excellent development of vision. More extensive ones can lead to severe loss of vision.

What causes cataracts in children?

Cataracts can be present at birth (congenital) or can develop later in life. It has been estimated that one in every 250 children will develop a cataract either prior to birth or during childhood. While the exact cause of some cataracts found in both eyes (bilateral cataracts) is unknown, many are hereditary. Bilateral cataracts have also been associated with a number of genetic disorders, so testing should be considered.

Cataracts found in only one eye (unilateral cataract) are usually not associated with a particular disease. Trauma is another cause of unilateral cataract.