Diagnosing cataracts in children

It's importantchildhood cataracts are diagnosed as early as possible because early treatment can significantly reduce the risk of long-term vision problems.

Newborn screening

All parents are offered a physical examination for their baby within 72 hours of birth and again when their baby issix to eight weeks old.

Childhood cataractsare among the conditions screened for duringthe newborn physicalexamination.

Your baby's eyesarechecked by looking attheir general appearance and how they move. If your baby's eye looks cloudy, it could be a signthey have cataracts.

An important part of the check is looking for the "red reflex" using a bright light. The red reflex is a reflection from the back of the eye that's similar to the red eye effect sometimes seen in flash photography. If no red reflex, or a weak one, is seen, it may mean there's cloudiness in the lens.

Vision tests for older babies and children

Although cataractscan bepresent from birth (congenital),they sometimes don't develop untila child is older.Visit your GP or tell your health visitor if you have any concerns about your child's eyesight at any stage.

You should also make sure your child has routine eye tests to check for any problems with their vision. All children under the age of 16 are entitled to free sight tests, which they should have about every two years.

Although the drops will sting, they won't damage your baby's eyes, and the effect will wear off after a few hours.

The ophthalmologist will examine your baby's eyes using medical instruments thathave a light at one end and produce a magnified image of the eye. Bright light is shone into your child's eyes, enabling the ophthalmologist to look inside them.

The ophthalmologist will diagnose cataracts if they can see them in the lens. If your child is diagnosed with cataracts, the ophthalmologist will discuss the treatment options with you.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016