A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The lens is located behind the colored iris. Its function is to help focus light on the retina. The retina then sends these visual signals to the brain. To produce a sharp image, the lens must remain clear. The cloudy lens must be removed before the eye can see well.
Cataract is a common cause of poor vision in older adults, but can also occur in babies and children. It can be caused by injury to the eye, a problem with the child's general health or it can be passed on to the child by heredity.
The ophthalmologist may order tests to help find the cause. However, in many cases, no cause can be found. Cataract surgery is a major operation that is done in the operating room.
Some children, usually older than 1 year of age at the time of surgery, may benefit from the implantation of an intraocular lens at the time of the cataract extraction.