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J AAPOS. 2009 Oct;13(5):459-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2009.08.007.

The value of serial personal photographs in timing the onset of unilateral cataracts in children.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



To determine the value of serial personal photographs in timing the onset of unilateral cataracts in children over 6 months of age.


Personal photographs from children with unilateral cataracts who underwent cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation when > or =6 months of age were reviewed. Photographs were evaluated for changes in the red reflex, which might indicate the presence of a cataract.


Twelve children underwent cataract surgery at a mean age of 37 months. They were followed for a mean of 32 months. Ten children were diagnosed as having an acquired cataract by photographic review documenting a previously normal red reflex. The visual acuity in the affected eye of 4 of these children improved to > or =20/60. Cataracts were visible on photographs prior to clinical diagnosis in 6 patients, from 0.5 to 22 months prior to clinical diagnosis. Visual outcomes did not relate closely to the photographically documented duration of the cataract prior to treatment. Photographs were not helpful in timing the onset of cataract in 2 children due to the poor quality of the images.


Serial personal photographs are sometimes helpful in determining whether cataracts are acquired. However, the usefulness of personal photographs alone in predicting the visual outcome after cataract surgery was limited in this small, retrospective study.

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