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Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia or "Small Eye Syndrome"


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The terms anoppthalmia and microphthalmia are used interchangeably. Microphthalmia is when one or both eyes are abnormally small. Anophthalmia is the absence of one or both eyes. These rare disorders can develop during pregnancy and can be associated with other birth defects.

The causes of these two eye conditions may include:

  • Genetic mutations

  • Abnormal chromosomes

  • Environmental factors such as exposure to X-rays, chemicals, drugs, pesticides, toxins, radiation, or viruses may increase the risk (research is not conclusive)

    Sometimes the cause cannot be determined.

    There is no treatment for severe cases of these conditions that will make the eye bigger or restore vision. Less forms of microphthalmia may benefit from medical or surgical treatments. Improvements to a child's appearance are possible in almost all cases. Improvements include:

  • A prosthetic (artificial) eye for cosmetic purposes and to promote socket growth
    Newborns will need to see several eye care professionals that include:

  • Those who specialize in pediatrics

  • Vitreoretinal disease

  • Orbital and oculoplastic surgery

  • Ophthalmic genetics

  • And prosthetic devices for the eye

    Each specialist will provide information and possible treatments that result in the best care for the child and family. Between the ages of one and two, a painted prosthesis that resembles a normal eye is usually fitted. Clear conformers are used before this time. The conformers are not painted because they are changed too frequently. Until about two years of age, a child will progress every few weeks to a larger size. If the child still needs to wear conformers pass the age of two, the conformers can be painted to look like a normal eye. Before the age of 10, the average child will require three to four new painted prostheses. Residual vision (limited sight) is present in children with microphthalmia. The good eye is patched to strengthen vision in the microphthalmic eye. Prosthesis can be constructed to cap the microphthalmic eye and help with cosmetic appearance as well as preserve the remaining sight.

    Source: National Eye Institute

    Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professiona

    This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

    Author: Connie Limon. Visit and sign up for a weekly nutrition and health tip. The article collection is available as FREE reprints for your newsletters, websites or blog. For a variety of FREE reprint articles on various topics rarely seen elsewhere visit

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