What cataracts are, how they affect vision, recommendations for pupils with cataracts.

Cataract is when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes hazy.  If the lens is not clear, sufficient light cannot get into the eye and vision is often blurred. 

How cataracts affect vision

Cataracts can affect different children in different ways. They usually cause blurring of vision.  The hazier the lens is, the more blurred the vision will be.

Children with a cataract in only one eye often have good vision in the other. If both eyes have cataracts, serious visual impairment is much more likely.

Many children born with cataracts in both eyes feel their vision is normal. They assume everyone else has the same vision as they do, not realising that other people see things differently.

If only a small area of the lens is hazy, away from the centre, the child is likely to have good vision. If the centre of the lens is very hazy and not letting much light in, the child is more likely to have poor vision.

Recommendations for pupils with cataracts

It's important to encourage children to wear and use their prescribed spectacles, contact lenses or low vision aids. This will ensure the vision parts of the brain grow and develop.

Wearing a hat and tinted glasses can also help reduce dislike of bright light, also known as photophobia. 

Pupils may need:

  • clearly presented curriculum materials with a good contrast between text and background and, possibly, enlarged or modified
  • additional time to study objects, demonstrations, and visual displays closely 
  • modified programmes for PE and games, as fast moving team games may be difficult
  • to sit near the front of the classroom or to one side, depending on the preferred angle of vision 
  • good levels of lighting, neither bright sunlight nor semi-darkness:  the light source should come from behind the pupil and onto the object being viewed
  • to be addressed by name when being given instruction, as they may not recognise non-verbal communication across a wide space  
  • additional time for examinations
  • verbal descriptions of objects and displays which are outside the range of vision

Contact us
Sensory Support Service
Elmfield House
Greystoke Avenue
Westbury-on-Trym
BS10 6AY

Phone: 0117 903 8442
Text: 07810 506 669
Email: sensorysupportservice@bristol.gov.uk