The management of childhood cataract begins at the initial contact with the family and typically extends far into the child's future. Decisions affecting long-term care and visual outcomes are often made in these initial preoperative encounters. Treatment will vary depending on whether the cataract is unilateral or bilateral and whether it is infantile onset or later. Thorough discussion of the treatment options is needed, especially with description of the life-long management issues for the child. Visual outcomes will vary, with the best visual acuity results being observed in older children with bilateral cataracts. Visual rehabilitation of children with unilateral cataract requires use of a contact lens or an intraocular lens (IOL) for the best result with a chance for binocularity. Only about 50% of eyes with unilateral infantile cataract will develop vision of better than 20/200. For bilateral cataracts, both contacts and IOLs can be used, as well as aphakic glasses. Excellent visual outcomes are typical unless glaucoma develops, which occurs in up to 30% of cases. Cataract surgery after 1 year of age is associated with substantially better visual outcomes. The use of an IOL is most commonly accepted and performed for cataract in one or both eyes after 1 year of age. Prior to 1 year of age, significantly more secondary surgical procedures are required to manage opacification of the optical axis with the use of an IOL compared with the use of surgery and contact lens correction. Amblyopia therapy for unilateral cataract needs be continuous from the time of surgery until at least 8 years of age. It is often difficult to perform this therapy over such a long time period, with compliance with less than 30% of prescribed time during infancy at 5 years after surgery.
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