How Is Microphthalmia Detected?

Microphthalmia is a type of birth defect affecting a baby’s eyes in which one or both eyes did not fully develop, meaning they are smaller than usual. This condition can develop during pregnancy, and a microphthalmia diagnosis can occur in conjunction with other birth defects, on its own or as part of a syndrome.

Approximately one in 5,200 babies is born with microphthalmia or anophthalmia (a condition in which a baby is born without one or both eyes) each year. The condition can result in blindness or vision problems that can last a lifetime.

What causes this condition?

The cause of microphthalmia is unknown for most infants. In some cases, it is a result of changes in chromosomes or genes. It can also be a result of taking some types of medicines during pregnancy, such as isotretinoin or thalidomide, both of which are associated with elevated risk of birth defects. Even some environmental issues, such as what a mother eats or drinks, can influence potential birth defects.

Delivering a microphthalmia diagnosis

In some cases, doctors can detect the presence of microphthalmia during pregnancy. An ultrasound or CT scan is the most likely situation in which a doctor will be able to detect the defect.

Diagnosis after the baby is born is simple, as it only involves a quick examination. Whenever a doctor detects the condition, he or she will likely also want to perform thorough examinations to look for other birth defects, as microphthalmia often occurs in conjunction with other issues.

Treatment and long-term prognosis

Unfortunately, there is no treatment that will fully restore a child’s vision or create a new eye for the child. Children born with microphthalmia will regularly see eye doctors for their entire lives, including ophthalmologists, ocularists and oculoplastic surgeons.

If a baby is born with microphthalmia, there’s a chance the bones that create eye sockets will not grow properly, which could result in improper facial development. Babies with this condition can be fitted with a plastic conformer that helps the eye socket and bones achieve proper growth. These devices can be swapped out and enlarged as the child grows to ensure a proper expansion of the eye socket.

Once the child reaches a certain age, they can be fitted with an artificial eye.

Children with this condition are also more likely to experience other eye issues, such as cataracts or detached retinas, which may necessitate surgery. If the condition only affects a single eye, eye doctors will also want to take plenty of precautions to protect the healthy eye.

With ongoing therapy, intervention and attention, children with microphthalmia can manage the condition and live a perfectly happy life.

A microphthalmia diagnosis can be scary for a parent, but with early intervention, you can manage the issue for your child and ensure their long-term ocular health. To schedule an appointment to discuss your child’s condition and needs, get in touch with Hetzler Ocular Prosthetics Inc. today. We will be happy to answer any questions you have.