Open Journal of Ophthalmology, 2012, 2, 131-139 Published Online November 2012 (
Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical
Treatment of Cataracts in Children
Mehul A. Shah, Shreya M. Shah, Khushboo A. Shikhangi, Pramod R. Upadhyay, Geetopam B. Bardoloi
Drashti Netralaya, Dahod, India.
Received August 8th, 2012; revised September 14th, 2012; accepted October 30th, 2012
Purpose: To assess treatment results in pediatric patients with cataracts, to evaluate the efficacy of various surgical
interventions, and to determine the factors that affect visual outcomes. Methods: This is aProspective cohort study. We
studied a consecutive series of pediatric patients with congenital, developing, or traumatic cataracts who underwent
surgery between January, 1999 and April, 2012 at Drashti Netralaya, Dahod. Patient demographics, cataract type,
presenting symptoms, surgical intervention, postoperative visual acuity, and follow-up refractive changes were recorded.
Results: In total, 1305 eyes of 1047 children were included: unilateral cataracts were present in 786 (60.2%) eyes.
There were 610 (46.7%) traumatic and 695 (53.3%) non-traumatic cases. Ages at surgery ranged from 1 to 215 months.
Eyes were grouped by the surgical intervention performed: Group 1, pars plana approach including 366 (28%) eyes that
underwent lensectomies, and Group 2, anterior approach, including 939 (71.9%) eyes that underwent phacoemulsifi-
cation ± IOL placement or small incision cataract surgery ±IOL placement. The mean follow-up time was 117 days.
Ultimately, 113 (30.9%) Group 1 and 503 (53.6%) Group 2 patients achieved a visual acuity better than 20/60 (P <
0.001). Age at intervention, laterality, sensory nystagmus, pre-treatment vision, IOL insertion, and etiology were all
significantly related (all P < 0.001) to visual outcome. Conclusions: Surgical treatment with intraocular lens implanta-
tion for children with congenital, developmental, or traumatic cataracts is an effective treatment for visual rehabilitation.
Visual outcome was significantly better in cases of traumatic cataracts versus non-traumatic cataracts.
Keywords: Pediatric Cataract; Visual Outcome; Traumatic Cataract; Developmental Cataract; Congenital Cataract
1. Introduction
Childhood cataracts are responsible for 5% - 20% of
blindness in children worldwide and for an even higher
percentage of childhood visual impairment in developing
countries [1-5]. The overall incidence of clinically sig-
nificant cataracts (unilateral or bilateral) in childhood is
unknown, but has been estimated to be as high as 0.4%
[6,7]. The prevalence of childhood cataract varies from
1.2 to 6.0 cases per 10,000 infants. Pediatric cataracts are
responsible for more than one million cases of childhood
blindness in Asia. In developing countries, such as India,
7.4% - 15.3% of childhood blindness is due to cataracts
[8,9]. Internationally, the incidence is unknown. Although
the World Health Organization and other health organi-
zations have made outstanding progress in vaccination
and disease prevention, the rate of congenital cataracts re-
mains much higher in underdeveloped countries.
The visual results of cataract surgery in children have
generally [10-12] been poorer than in adults [1-3,
6,12,13]. This difference is due, in part, to the various
types of amblyopia that develop in children with cata-
racts, the association of nystagmus with early onset cata-
racts, and the presence of other ocular abnormalities that
adversely affect vision in eyes with developmental lens
opacities. Since the introduction of the aspiration tech-
nique for cataract removal by Scheie in 1960 [14], surgi-
cal procedures for the removal of the lens in childhood
have improved [15,16], and earlier surgery for congenital
cataracts has been encouraged [17-19].
Any opacification of the lens and its capsule in chil-
dren is defined as a pediatric cataract. Pediatric cataracts
can be unilateral or bilateral. They can be subdivided
based on morphology, as well as etiology. Morphologi-
cally, the most common type of pediatric cataract is the
zonular cataract, characterized by opacification of a dis-
crete region of the lens. This type includes nuclear, la-
mellar, sutural, and capsular cataracts [6,10].
Polar cataracts are opacities of the subcapsular cortex
in the polar regions of the lens. Almost all (90%) anterior
polar cataracts are unilateral; bilateral anterior polar cata-
racts are commonly asymmetric and typically do not
progress over time. Posterior polar cataracts are often
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children
small, but even a small posterior polar cataract can im-
pair vision. A distinctive type of posterior polar cataract
is the posterior lentiglobus or lenticonus, in which a pro-
trusion of the posterior capsule is present. Membranous
cataracts form when the lens, cortex, and nucleus are par-
tially or completely reabsorbed, leaving a small amount
of opacified lens material between the anterior and the
posterior lens capsules (Duke-Elder, 1972).
Congenital cataracts are one of the most common
causes of treatable blindness in children, particularly in
developing countries [1]. A recent report indicated that
infants with bilateral congenital cataract who underwent
early surgery (within 1 month of birth) and received ap-
propriate optical rehabilitation could obtain visual acuity
of better than 0.4 and could even achieve stereopsis [2].
However, because of typically relatively late detection
and diagnosis, the nonavailability of facilities for infant
anesthesia, and poor compliance with long-term follow-
up, the visual prognosis for infants with congenital cata-
ract in developing countries differs markedly from that in
industrialized countries. Visual loss is primarily attribu-
table to amblyopia, most importantly, to “stimulus-form
deprivation amblyopia,” with the additional factor of ocu-
lar rivalry in unilateral disease. Thus, improved under-
standing of the critical periods of visual development has
resulted in to surgical intervention for dense cataracts
being deemed necessary within the first 3 months of life,
possibly as early as the first 6 weeks in unilateral disease.
Clinical factors believed to be important to visual out-
come in children include age at diagnosis and surgery,
type of refractive correction, type of cataract surgery,
compliance with occlusion regimen, etiology of the cata-
ract, presence of non-ophthalmic disorders, development
of capsular opacity or secondary membrane, and serious
ocular postoperative complications.
Primary posterior capsulotomy and anterior vitrectomy
are considered “routine surgical steps,” especially in
younger children. Previously, preparation for secondary
intraocular lens (IOL) implantation at a later date was not
considered. However, widespread acceptance of IOL im-
plantation in children has caused this to be revised. Thus,
management of the posterior capsule should eliminate or
delay the formation of visual axis opacity and yet leave
sufficient capsular support to achieve the desired “in-
the-bag” (or ciliary sulcus) fixation of an IOL. Even
when IOL implantation is not performed with the pri-
mary procedure, it is important to treat and prepare the
eye in such a way that secondary implantation can be
achieved subsequently.
2. Materials and Methods
The study was approved by the hospital ethics committee.
This was a prospective hospital-based study at a tertiary
care eye hospital in western India over 20 years, from
January, 1992 to April, 2012. All pediatric patients (0 to
18) with cataracts presenting to our department during
this period were enrolled in the study.
Patient primary details and history were documented
using a pre-tested online format. Ocular trauma details
were documented with an online world eye injury regis-
try form.
Vision was checked according to the American Aca-
demy of Pediatrics vision check protocol. Both eyes were
assessed. Anterior segment examinations were conduc-
ted using a slit lamp bio-microscope. The pupils were
Ocular pressure was measured using a Perkin’s hand-
held tonometer. If this was not possible, the pressure was
measured under general anesthesia. This procedure was
omitted for eyes with open globe injuries. The posterior
segment of the eye was evaluated with the help of an
indirect ophthalmoscope and a +20 D lens and an ultra-
sound “B” scan if the media was not clear.
The surgical technique was decided based on etiology,
cataract morphology, and the position of the lens. Sur-
gery was done by the anterior or pars plana route. Ante-
rior route surgeries were performed using a phacoemulsi-
fier or manual suction. Membranectomies and lensecto-
mies were performed using a pneumatic cutter leaving
capsular support for secondary implant. Intraocular lenses
were not implanted in patients younger than 1.5 years.
Children below this age underwent lensectomies/mem-
branectomies; secondary implant placement was conduc-
ted later. Patients were rehabilitated using glasses or con-
tact lenses in-between. For IOL power calculations, we
followed published guidelines [20,21].
In cases of globe rupture, open globe injury wound
repair was done as a first stage and the cataract was ope-
rated on at a second sitting. All steps of the surgical
techniques were documented using a pretested online
All traumatic cataract patients without infection were
treated with systemic corticosteroids. In all patients with
inflammation and membranous cataracts, a primary pos-
terior capsulotomy and anterior vitrectomy were per-
Postoperative follow-up was performed according to a
pretested online format, including vision, anterior and
posterior segment findings and intra ocular pressure, over
an appropriate follow-up schedule. Glasses were pre-
scribed when the media were clear and the final prescrip-
tion was at 6 weeks post-operation. Patients underwent
orthoptic evaluations and amblyopic patients were treated
with appropriate patching. Aphakic patients were reha-
bilitated using glasses or contact lenses. Patients were
evaluated for stereopsis and contrast sensitivity using a
Titmus vision tester or a Titmus fly test.
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children 133
Patients developing later cataracts underwent mem-
branectomies and vitrectomies as required. For children
operated on below the age of 1.5 years, secondary lens
implantation was performed after they reached 1.5 years
of age.
Data were analyzed using the SPSS software (ver. 19.0;
SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Univariate parametrical
analyses were used. A P-value of <0.05 was considered
to indicate statistical significance.
3. Results
The enrolled patient group consisted of 1305 eyes in 805
pediatric patients with cataracts. There were 858 (65.7%)
males and 447 (34.3%) females (Table 1). The mean
patient age was 9.5 ± 4.7 years (range, 0 - 18). Of the
cataracts, 610 (46.7%) were traumatic and 695 (53.3%)
were congenital or developmental. Of the eyes, 1117
(85.6%; Table 2) had diminished vision and 188 (14.4%)
presented with leukocoria. The follow-up period was 1 -
3084 days (mean, 117.4 days).
In the non-traumatic group, eyes were further subdi-
vided into congenital (293, 22.5%), developmental (373,
28.6%), and secondary cataracts (29, 2.2%; Tables 2 and
3). According to the statistical analysis, the demographic
factors analyzed, including socioeconomic status (74.5%
were of lower socioeconomic status) and residence (92%
were from rural areas), had no significant relationship
with the final visual acuity.
Regarding patient entry, 9.2% of the patients had re-
ceived primary treatment prior to reaching our center; this
was not associated with a significant difference in the final
visual outcome (P = 0.2). Of the total patients enrolled,
26.4% entered via an outreach department, and 71% were
Among the injuries, 30% were reported within the first
24 h, 30% were reported within 3 days, and 33.9% were
reported within 1 month. A wooden stick was the most
common object causing eye injury (51.4%). Neither the
injury-causing object (P = 0.3) nor the activity at the time
of injury (P = 0.3) was significantly associated with the
final visual acuity.
A comparison of pre- and post-operative visual acui-
ties showed that treatment significantly improved visual
acuity (Tabl e 4; P < 0.001, Pearson’s χ2 test; P = 0.001,
ANOVA). An intraocular lens was implanted in 1205
cases (92.3%) and was significantly associated with im-
proved visual acuity (P < 0.001).
When we compared visual outcome between the trau-
matic and non-traumatic groups, the traumatic group did
significantly better (Table 5; P < 0.001). Final visual
acuity following cataract surgery was > 6/60 in 399 eyes
(56.8%) and 6/12 in 105 eyes (15.1%) in the non-trau-
matic group. In the traumatic group, the visual acuity
Table 1. Age and sex distribution.
Age (Years)
Female Male
0 to 2 37 56
3 to 5 67 119
6 to 10 156 293
11 to 18 187 390
Total 447 858
Table 2. Aetiology of cataract.
Type of Cataract Frequency Percent
Complicated 29 2.2
Congenital 293 22.5
Developmental 373 28.6
Traumatic 610 46.7
Total 1305 100.0
was >6/60 in 333 eyes (54.6%) and 6/12 in 193 eyes
(31.6%). The difference between the groups was signifi-
cant (P < 0.001). In total, 296 (22.6%) eyes had a final
visual acuity 6/12 and 728 (57.8%) eyes had a final
visual acuity >6/60 (Table 5).
Sensory nystagmus was present in 221 (17%) eyes.
This caused a significant difference in final visual out-
come (Table 6; P < 0.001).
We examined unilateral versus bilateral cataracts (Ta-
ble 7; P < 0.001) and found better results in unilateral
cases. In the non-traumatic group, bilateral cases had
better results (Table 7; P < 0.001).
We compared visual outcome according to age of in-
tervention. Significantly better results were achieved in
the age range between 6 and 18, likely because of the
traumatic cases in this age group (Table 8; P < 0.001).
We compared final visual outcome between the anterior
and pars plana routes. An anterior approach resulted in a
better outcome (Table 9; P < 0.001).
We also studied visual outcome when a primary poste-
rior capsulotomy and vitrectomy were performed. Pri-
mary posterior capsulotomy and vitrectomy were per-
formed in 460 (34.5%) cases and a significant difference
was found (Table 1 0; P < 0.001). Better overall results
were achieved if a primary posterior capsulotomy and
vitrectomy were not performed, while vision was im-
proved in cases of traumatic cataracts (Table 10; P =
Insertion of an IOL resulted in a significant improve-
ent in visual outcome. (Table 11; P < 0.001). m
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. OJOph
Table 3. Comparision of visual outcome according to aetiology.
Type of Cataract
Visual Acuity
Complicated Congenital Developmental Traumatic
Uncooperative 0 9 6 5
<1/60 20 66 66 201
1/60 to 3/60 3 61 65 69
6/60 to 6/36 2 17 50 46
6/24 to 6/18 3 128 92 94
6/12 to 6/9 0 5 30 53
6/6 to 6/5 1 5 62 140
Total 29 291 371 608
P = 0.0001299.
Table 4. Comparision of visual outcome according to pre operative visual acuity.
Visual Acuity (Preoperative)
Visual Acuity (Post OP)
Uncooperative <1/60 1/60 to 3/60 6/60 to 6/36 6/24 to 6/18 6/12 to 6/6 6/9 to 6/6
Uncooperative 7 13 0 0 0 0 0
<1/60 7 321 11 11 3 1 0
1/60 to 3/60 1 128 54 11 5 0 0
6/60 to 6/36 0 74 28 10 3 0 0
6/24 to 6/18 7 132 37 99 41 0 2
6/12 to 6/9 1 62 15 3 7 1 0
6/6 to 6/5 5 140 24 23 12 3 3
Total 28 870 169 157 71 5 5
P = 0.000.
Table 5. Comparision of visual outcome amongst traumatic
and non traumatic group.
Visual Acuity
Non Traumatic Traumatic
Uncooperative 15 5
<1/60 153 201
1/60 to 3/60 130 69
6/60 to 6/36 70 46
6/24 to 6/18 224 94
6/12 to 6/9 36 53
6/6 to 6/5 69 140
Total 697 608
P = 0.000.
Table 6. Comparision of visual outcome according to pre-
sence of sensory nystegmus.
Visual Acuity
No Yes
Uncooperative 13 7
<1/60 302 52
1/60 to 3/60 150 49
6/60 to 6/36 96 20
6/24 to 6/18 230 88
6/12 to 6/9 88 1
6/6 to 6/5 204 5
Total 1083 222
P = 0.000.
Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children 135
Table 7. Comparision of visual outcome according to lateri-
Visual Acuity
Bilateral Unilateral
Uncooperative 8 12
<1/60 75 278
1/60 to 3/60 98 100
6/60 to 6/36 58 57
6/24 to 6/18 187 130
6/12 to 6/9 28 60
6/6 to 6/5 59 149
Total 513 786
P = 0.000.
Table 8. Comparision of visual outcome according to age of
Cataract Age (yrs)
Visual Acuity
0 to 2 3 to 5 6 to 10 11 to 18
Uncooperative 1 6 12 1
<1/60 5 58 130 160
1/60 to 3/60 3 26 67 102
6/60 to 6/36 0 11 50 54
6/24 to 6/18 81 75 88 73
6/12 to 6/9 0 3 39 46
6/6 to 6/5 2 5 62 139
Total 92 184 448 575
P = 0.000.
Table 9. Comparision of visual outcome according to surgi-
cal approach.
Surgical Approach
Visual Acuity
Uncooperative 10 10
<1/60 194 160
1/60 to 3/60 140 59
6/60 to 6/36 92 24
6/24 to 6/18 230 88
6/12 to 6/9 80 9
6/6 to 6/5 193 16
Total 939 366
P = 0.000.
Table 10. Comparision of visual outcome according to PPC.
Visual Acuity
No Yes
Uncooperative 12 8
<1/60 259 95
1/60 to 3/60 108 91
6/60 to 6/36 73 43
6/24 to 6/18 193 125
6/12 to 6/9 63 26
6/6 to 6/5 151 58
Total 859 446
P = 0.000; PPC = Primary Posterior Capsulotomy.
Table 11. Comparision of visual outcome according to in-
sertion of IOL.
Visual Acuity
No Yes
Uncooperative 1 19
<1/60 31 323
1/60 to 3/60 17 182
6/60 to 6/36 3 113
6/24 to 6/18 48 270
6/12 to 6/9 2 87
6/6 to 6/5 3 206
Total 105 1200
P = 0.000.
We examined age of intervention and found signifi-
cantly better outcomes if the intervention was performed
at >5 years (Table 12; P < 0.001). Vision was better at >5
years in both groups.
We compared results by morphology of the cataract in
non-traumatic group. Good results were achieved with
lamellar cataracts (Table 13; P < 0.001).
We examined cases with amblyopia and unilateral as
well as bilateral cataracts. A significant difference was
found in bilateral cases (Table 14; P < 0.001). In the non-
traumatic group, 184 eyes had a unilateral cataract with
deprivational amblyopia; vision improvement was not
significant (Table 14; P = 0.510).
For the traumatic group, we also gathered data regard-
ing activities at the time of the injury and the object
causing the injury (Tables 15 and 16).
4. Discussion
The enrolled patient group consisted of 1305 eyes of 805
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children
Table 12. Comparision of visual outcome amongst I nter-
vention under and above 5 years.
Category Total
5 >5
Uncooperative 8 12 20
<1/60 64 291 353
1/60 to 3/60 29 169 198
6/60 to 6/36 12 105 115
6/24 to 6/18 162 155 317
6/12 to 6/9 4 86 88
6/6 to 6/5 7 201 208
Total 286 1019 1305
P = 0.000.
Table 13. Comparative visual outcome in eyes with lamellar
catarcat with other morphologies.
Morphology Total
Post Operative Vision
Other Lamellar Other
Uncooperative 12 3 15
<1/60 139 13 152
1/60 to 3/60 97 32 129
6/60 to 6/36 38 31 69
6/24 to 6/18 151 72 223
6/12 to 6/9 18 17 35
6/6 to 6/5 49 19 68
Total 504 187 691
P = 0.000.
pediatric patients. The mean patient age was 9.5 ± 4.7
years. The mean age in another report was 7.1 [22]. Age
at intervention had a significant effect on visual outcome
(Table 4). Other investigators have reported similar find-
ings [23].
There was no overall significant difference in a com-
parison of procedures with or without primary posterior
capsulotomy and vitrectomy (Table 10) [24-26], but a
significant difference (P = 0.008) was found in the trau-
matic group. A randomized controlled trial may provide
more prcise information regarding this difference.
The anterior approach was superior to the pars plana
approach (Table 9; [27-31]. However, the posterior ap-
proach was typically selected for more complex condi-
The incidence of traumatic cataracts in children was
higher than that reported previously [32]. In a compari-
Table 14. Comparative visual outcome in unilateral ambly-
opic eyes.
No Yes
Uncooperative 8 0 8
<1/60 67 8 75
1/60 to 3/60 86 12 98
6/60 to 6/36 47 11 58
6/24 to 6/18 158 29 187
6/12 to 6/9 27 0 27
Post Operative
6/6 to 6/5 54 0 54
Total 447 60 507
Uncooperative 7 0 7
<1/60 71 6 77
1/60 to 3/60 26 5 31
6/60 to 6/36 10 1 11
6/24 to 6/18 32 4 36
6/12 to 6/9 8 0 8
Post Operative
6/6 to 6/5 14 0 14
Total 168 16 184
BL p = 0.008 UL p = 0.510.
Table 15. Activity at the time of the injury.
Activities Percentage (%)
Fall 1.7
Making a Fire 2.8
Housework 16.4
Employment 5.6
Other 12.7
Walking 1.1
Playing 55.1
Travelling 3.4
Unknown 1.1
Total 100.0
son of the traumatic and non-traumatic groups, the group
with traumatic cataracts did significantly better, likely
attributable to the fully developed visual system in chil-
dren above 5 years of age versus children with local or
systemic anomalies in cases of congenital or develop-
mental cataracts. With regard to unilateral and bilateral
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children 137
Table 16. Object causing the injury.
Object Percentage (%)
Ball 1.4
Cattle Horn 1.7
Cattle Tail 0.3
Finger 0.8
Fire 2.8
Glass 1.1
Thorn 3.4
Other 8.8
Sharp Object 8.8
Stone 10.7
Unknown 8.8
Stick 51.4
Total 100.0
cases, we found that unilateral cataracts did better, in
contrast to some other reports (Table 7) [10,33,34], again
likely attributable to the large number of traumatic cases.
A prospective study of the outcome of surgery for
cataracts in the pediatric age group has several limita-
tions. Although we believe that all patients included in
the study had congenital, developmental, or traumatic lens
opacities, not all patients were seen and followed by us
from the time of birth. In particular, some patients with
lamellar cataracts were not seen by us until they were
several years old.
Regarding timing of intervention, our study suggests
that visual outcome is affected by age of intervention,
etiology, and laterality. Traumatic cataracts did well with
late interventions (age 11 - 18; Table 3). Patients in the
non-traumatic group did well in the case of type 1 mor-
phology if the intervention was early and in the case of
type 2 morphology (partial opacity), if the intervention
was late. In cases of unilateral cataracts, sooner is better.
These findings were similar in the non-traumatic group
[10]. For the traumatic group, the interval between injury
and intervention is important [35]. On the other hand,
their lens opacities were characteristic of congenital la-
mellar cataracts [10], a type of cataract we have not
found to be acquired postnatally in otherwise healthy
The surgeries performed in our series of patients were
not identical in all cases. For example, the posterior cap-
sule was handled differently at different times during the
study period. Additionally, the timing of surgery was not
dictated by an established protocol, but was determined
by age at the time of referral and by the visual status of
individual patients. Finally, some observations that would
have been useful for analysis were missing from the re-
cords because of loss to follow-up.
Nevertheless, we feel that some useful observations
can be made on the basis of this review of patients. There
seem to be two general categories of patients with con-
genital and developmental cataracts. One is characterized
by extensive lens opacity and an early, obvious reduction
in vision. These patients, who come for cataract surgery
in the first year of life, often have smaller-than-normal
corneal diameters, poorly dilating pupils, and a vulner-
ability to delayed postoperative open-angle glaucoma.
The other category includes patients with partial, often
lamellar lens opacities, corneas of normal size, and a
remarkably good visual prognosis. Lamellar cataract did
significantly better when compared with other mor-
phologies in the non-traumatic group, similar to other
studies (Table 13) [10]. Of the patients in the first cate-
gory, 222 (17%) developed nystagmus at 2 - 4 months of
age, which was accompanied by a reduction in visual
acuity despite a good anatomical result from surgery
(Table 6). Early surgery, within the time frame indicated
in [10], did not appear to stop the development of nys-
tagmus, although some investigators have suggested that
this may be so, based on anecdotal experiences with
small numbers of patients [10,18,19]. It is possible that
even earlier surgery than we have done, undertaken in
the first few weeks of life, would have a more favourable
influence on the development of nystagmus. On the other
hand, the nystagmus may be a manifestation of a more
general ophthalmic disorder that would not be influenced
by the timing of surgery. Further evaluation of this ques-
tion will require a randomized controlled study, because
patient selection could influence the prevalence of nys-
tagmus in any small series of patients, especially if all
patients with congenital cataracts, regardless of type, were
subjected to early surgery.
Some concern has been raised about the possibility of
a higher complication rate following cataract surgery per-
formed in the first 2 months of life, an important concern,
but also one based on a prospective study of patients not
randomized with regard to the timing of surgery. While it
is well-known that deprivational amblyopia is difficult to
surmount in patients with unilateral congenital cataracts
(Table 14) [10], it is not a major factor in patients with
bilateral partial or lamellar opacities, as long as their lens
opacities are symmetrical (Table 10).
The visual prognosis in this group of patients, whose
surgery is usually performed after 5 years of age, at a
time when increasing visual needs begin to exceed the li-
mits imposed by bilateral congenital cataracts, is excel-
lent (Table 13). The only patients in this second general
category who fell short of this high expectation were a
few who also had the unfortunate combination of nys-
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Factors Affecting Visual Outcome Following Surgical Treatment of Cataracts in Children
tagmus and high myopia.
Treatment of strabismic amblyopia following bilateral
congenital cataract surgery is useful, although the ocular
misalignment is sometimes hard to identify, and the am-
blyopia may be profound by the time it is recognized
[10]. Deprivational amblyopia due to asymmetry of ca-
taracts from the outset is very difficult to reverse, similar
to the situation in patients with monocular congenital
cataracts. An early start of treatment would seem to be
the only hope of success in these asymmetric cases (Ta-
ble 14) [10].
Development of open-angle glaucoma is a known
complication of early cataract surgery; surprisingly, there
was no such case in our study. The cause of delayed
open-angle glaucoma following congenital cataract sur-
gery is not well-understood [10,34]. It has been sug-
gested that the trabecular meshwork is less porous be-
cause of early postoperative inflammation. Another pos-
sibility is that there is an underlying developmental ab-
normality of the anterior chamber angle, predisposing to
the glaucoma and related to the developmentally small
corneas and poorly dilating pupils that are seen in asso-
ciation with more severe congenital cataracts. The 27%
incidence of delayed open-angle glaucoma in patients who
have had surgery in the first 15 months is probably an
underestimate, because we do not yet have postoperative
pressure measurements in all patients and the glaucoma
develops late. Certainly, ocular pressures should be mo-
nitored regularly after early congenital cataract surgery.
The incidence of glaucoma following later surgery for
congenital lamellar opacities was zero in our series [10].
5. Conclusions
Overall, satisfactory results may be achieved.
Primary IOL has a positive influence in children
above 1.5 years.
Traumatic cataracts have a better prognosis.
Bilateral cases had a better prognosis.
Lamellar cataract had a better prognosis.
Intervention at an early age had a better prognosis in
the non-traumatic group, while late intervention [6-18]
had a better prognosis in the traumatic group.
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