Characteristics of Anterior Lens Opacities in Children

Lena Dixit1, Michael Puente1, Kimberly G. Yen1, 2, *
1 Department of Ophthalmology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
2 Department of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA

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Creative Commons License
© 2017 Dixit et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Texas Childrens’ Hospital, 6701 Fannin, Suite 610.25, Houston, TX 77005, USA, Tel: 832-822-3237, Fax: 713-796-8110; Email:



Anterior lens opacities (ALO) are found in 3-14% of pediatric patients with cataracts. No clear guidelines exist in the management and treatment of these cataracts.


To evaluate pediatric patients with anterior lens opacities and assess rate of amblyopia and need for surgery over time.


A retrospective chart review was performed on patients with unilateral and bilateral anterior lens opacities (ALOs) seen between January 2008 and December 2014. Size, location, and type of ALO were noted. Refractive error, necessity for treatment of amblyopia, and interventions were recorded.


A total of 31 patients were included in the study. 17 patients had unilateral ALOs and 14 had bilateral ALOs. The majority of the cataracts (90.3%) were centrally located. The most common type of cataract was the polar type of cataract and the vast majority (48.4%) was < 1mm in size. 38.7% of patients had concurrent ocular conditions and 9.7% had systemic associations. 28.6% of patients with bilateral cataracts and 35.3% of the patients with unilateral cataracts were treated for amblyopia. Three patients required cataract surgery.


About half of anterior lens opacities are less than 1mm in size and the majority are of the polar type. Risk of amblyopia in these patients is higher than in the general population. Anisometropia is the most common cause of amblyopia. Ocular associations are seen at a relatively high frequency and systemic associations can occur but are uncommon. The need for surgical intervention is infrequent; however, growth of ALOs and associated cortical changes may be risk factors for surgery.

Keywords: Anterior polar cataract, Pediatric cataract, pediatric cataract surgery, Amblyopia, Cataracts, Anterior lens opacities.