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What is Microphthalmia?

Microphthalmia is a rare developmental disorder where one or both eyes are abnormally small, potentially affecting vision. This condition can occur in isolation or as part of a syndrome. Understanding microphthalmia's causes, treatments, and impacts is crucial for those affected. Curious about how this condition influences daily life and what advancements are being made? Dive deeper into the lives touched by microphthalmia.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Microphthalmia is a condition characterized by smaller-than-normal eyes. As most babies develop in their mothers’ wombs, all of their body parts grow to the expected size. Sometimes, however, something goes wrong, and the eyes fail to grow as large as they should be, resulting in microphthalmia. In some cases, the eyes may fail to grow altogether, and the resulting condition is referred to as anophthalmia.

The causes of microphthalmia aren’t fully understood. Often, cases seem to occur by pure chance. However, some with this condition go on to produce offspring with small eyes as well. Sometimes, a uterine infection leads to the condition, but such cases are very rare. Some people have speculated that it may be caused by the use of certain medications or illegal drugs, but this has not been proven.

An eye patch may be used to treat microphthalmia to encourage the weaker eye to become stronger.
An eye patch may be used to treat microphthalmia to encourage the weaker eye to become stronger.

Microphthalmia is typically diagnosed as the result of an ophthalmologist’s examination. The eye is measured and the condition is diagnosed if one or both eyes are smaller than normal. Sometimes the condition may be noticed soon after a baby is born and while he is still under hospital care. In other cases, parents may notice the difference after taking their babies home and watching the residual puffiness of childbirth fade away to leave obvious eye abnormalities.

Some people speculate that microphthalmia can be caused by using illicit drugs.
Some people speculate that microphthalmia can be caused by using illicit drugs.

A young child with microphthalmia may not notice any difference in his vision, as he won’t have anything to compare it to. He will often think everyone sees things the same way he does. However, the unfortunate fact is this condition can have a significant effect on vision. Some children may have seriously impaired vision, others may see only bright lights, and still others may experience blindness. On the other hand, some children’s eyes may be only slightly smaller than normal and their vision may be considered normal, or close to it.

Eyecare specialists are sometimes unsure as to the exact cause of a case of microphthalmia.
Eyecare specialists are sometimes unsure as to the exact cause of a case of microphthalmia.

When a child has microphthalmia in a mild form, he is likely to have hypermetropia, or farsightedness. In such a case, correctional lenses may help him to see normally. Some children with the condition tend to squint quite a bit. Others may develop a condition called nystagmus, which is characterized by the quick movements of the eye from one side to the other.

Treatment of microphthalmia depends on its severity. Besides corrective lenses, eye patches may be used to encourage better vision development in the weaker eye. In some cases, surgery and other corrective measures may be indicated.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a TheHealthBoard writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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    • An eye patch may be used to treat microphthalmia to encourage the weaker eye to become stronger.
      By: ia_64
      An eye patch may be used to treat microphthalmia to encourage the weaker eye to become stronger.
    • Some people speculate that microphthalmia can be caused by using illicit drugs.
      By: gaborphotos
      Some people speculate that microphthalmia can be caused by using illicit drugs.
    • Eyecare specialists are sometimes unsure as to the exact cause of a case of microphthalmia.
      By: FotolEdhar
      Eyecare specialists are sometimes unsure as to the exact cause of a case of microphthalmia.
    • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to improve vision for those with microphthalmia.
      By: Peter Orsaeo Sr
      In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to improve vision for those with microphthalmia.
    • A uterine infection can lead to microphthalmia.
      By: reineg
      A uterine infection can lead to microphthalmia.