Most cataracts occur later in life. In some rare instances a child may be born with cataracts or develop them early in life. These are known as congenital or paediatric cataracts.
It is important that congenital/paediatric cataracts are removed as soon as possible, and the child’s vision corrected with lenses, in order that their visual may develop normally. Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are the normal treatment for most cataracts these days. In a young child, however, where the eye may be expected to grow considerably over the first 18 months of life, the convention is to fit contact lenses to restore vision until the first growth stage has been completed, and for an IOL be fitted thereafter. Extended wear silicone lenses may be used to allow the lens to be left in place during sleep, or another lens type may be used provided the parents are able to manage insertion and removal of the lenses. Spectacles may be used, but the difficulty in keeping spectacles in place on a young child normally precludes this option, as there are better alternatives available.