Genetics of bilateral pediatric cataract in the Israeli and Palestinian populations

Claudia Yahalom*, Irene Anteby, Karen Hendler, Tamar Harel, Avital Eilat, Michal Macarov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bilateral pediatric cataract (BPC) is one of the most common causes of childhood visual impairment and blindness worldwide. A significant percentage of pediatric cataracts are caused by genetic alterations. We aim to characterize the set of genes and variants that cause BPC in the Israeli and Palestinian populations and to assess genotype-phenotype correlation. Methods: Retrospective study in a multidisciplinary center for visual impairment, located in a tertiary medical center. Medical charts of families who underwent genetic counseling because of BPC in a family member were reviewed. Clinical characteristics and genetic tests results were obtained from medical records of affected subjects. Results: Twenty-two families (47 patients) underwent genetic counseling and completed genetic testing. Causative variants were identified in 18/22 (81.8%) of the families, including 3 novel variants. Genetic testing used included mainly panel for congenital cataracts and whole exome sequencing. Eleven families performed genetic testing with the intention of future pregnancy planning. Main causative genes identified were crystalline genes followed by transcription factor genes. BCOR gene variants were associated with persistent fetal vasculature (PFV) cataract in two of three families. Conclusions: Combined molecular techniques are useful in identifying variants causing pediatric cataracts and showed a high detection rate in our population. BCOR gene variants might be associated with PFV type of cataracts. The study of pathogenic variants may aid in family planning and prevention of pediatric cataracts in future pregnancies. Additionally, in certain cases, it assists in diagnosing non-suspected syndromic types of pediatric cataracts.

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  • Congenital cataract
  • Genetics of cataract
  • Inherited cataract
  • Pediatric cataract


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