Large Print Reviews

Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia Resource Guide
By the National Eye Institute

Home | What's New | Reviews | Articles | Travel | Links | Search
Large Print Bookstore | Low Vision Product Store



Eye Diseases and Disorders Series - LPR Staff Project - December 27, 2004

(This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor for medical advice.)

Click here to jump to a list of Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia related links.

The following is an abridgement of an article that was provided courtesy of the National Eye Institute. A complete, printed copy of this article, as well as a other free publications offered by the NEI, can be ordered via their NEI Publications Catalog.



Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia Resource Guide
By the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

The information provided in this Resource Guide was developed by the National Eye Institute to help patients and their families in searching for general information about anophthalmia and microphthalmia. An eye care professional who has examined the patient's eyes and is familiar with his or her medical history is the best person to answer specific questions.

Other Names

Anophthalmos and microphthalmos, small eye syndrome.

What are anophthalmia and microphthalmia?

Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are often used interchangeably. Microphthalmia is a disorder in which one or both eyes are abnormally small, while anophthalmia is the absence of one or both eyes. These rare disorders develop during pregnancy and can be associated with other birth defects.

What causes anophthalmia and microphthalmia?

Causes of these conditions may include genetic mutations and abnormal chromosomes. Researchers also believe that environmental factors, such as exposure to X-rays, chemicals, drugs, pesticides, toxins, radiation, or viruses, increase the risk of anophthalmia and microphthalmia, but research is not conclusive. Sometimes the cause in an individual patient cannot be determined.

Can anophthalmia and microphthalmia be treated?

There is no treatment for severe anophthalmia or microphthalmia that will create a new eye or restore vision. However, some less severe forms of microphthalmia may benefit from medical or surgical treatments. In almost all cases improvements to a child's appearance are possible. Children can be fitted for a prosthetic (artificial) eye for cosmetic purposes and to promote socket growth. A newborn with anophthalmia or microphthalmia will need to visit several eye care professionals, including those who specialize in pediatrics, vitreoretinal disease, orbital and oculoplastic surgery, ophthalmic genetics, and prosthetic devices for the eye. Each specialist can provide information and possible treatments resulting in the best care for the child and family. The specialist in prosthetic diseases for the eye will make conformers, plastic structures that help support the face and encourage the eye socket to grow. As the face develops, new conformers will need to be made. A child with anophthalmia may also need to use expanders in addition to conformers to further enlarge the eye socket. Once the face is fully developed, prosthetic eyes can be made and placed. Prosthetic eyes will not restore vision.

How do conformers and prosthetic eyes look?

A painted prosthesis that looks like a normal eye is usually fitted between ages one and two. Until then, clear conformers are used. When the conformers are in place the eye socket will look black. These conformers are not painted to look like a normal eye because they are changed too frequently. Every few weeks a child will progress to a larger size conformer until about two years of age. If a child needs to wear conformers after age two, the conformers will be painted like a regular prosthesis, giving the appearance of a normal but smaller eye. The average child will need three to four new painted prostheses before the age of 10.

How is microphthalmia managed if there is residual vision in the eye?

Children with microphthalmia may have some residual vision (limited sight.) In these cases, the good eye can be patched to strengthen vision in the microphthalmic eye. A prosthesis can be made to cap the microphthalmic eye to help with cosmetic appearance, while preserving the remaining sight.

Resource List

The following organizations may be able to provide additional information on anophthalmia and microphthalmia: Additional resources for parents and teachers of children with visual impairments can be found on the National Eye Institute's website at .


Related Articles & Reviews:
Back to top


About LPR | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Questions or Comments? Send an email to:
info@largeprintreviews.com

Copyright Large Print Reviews 2004 - All Rights Reserved