purpose: to determine the health-seeking behavior of the families of children presenting with congenital and developmental cataract attending "instituto brasileiro de oftalmologia" (ibol), rio de janeiro, brazil. methods: caregivers of consecutive eligible children were interviewed using a pretested questionnaire and medical records were reviewed to collect information about their health-seeking behavior and socioeconomic status in june and july of 2008. results: data from 70 children were gathered, from which 42 (60.0%) had bilateral disease. fifty-eight (82.9%) cases were considered congenital and 12 (17.1%) developmental. presentation delay was observed in 33 (47.1%) children. having insurance (adjusted or 0.17; 95% ci 0.04 - 0.82) and being the only child (adjusted or 0.16; 95% ci 0.04 - 0.69) decreased likelihood of late presentation. conclusions: delayed detection and presentation for treatment of non-traumatic pediatric cataract are still significant problems in the state of rio de janeiro. early recognition as well as prompt referral and appropriate treatment have to be improved, especially at the public sector.