Microphthalmia is an eye abnormality that arises before birth. In this condition, one or both eyeballs are abnormally small. In some affected individuals, the eyeball may appear to be completely missing; however, even in these cases some remaining eye tissue is generally present. Such severe microphthalmia should be distinguished from another condition called anophthalmia, in which no eyeball forms at all. However, the terms anophthalmia and severe microphthalmia are often used interchangeably. Microphthalmia may or may not result in significant vision loss.
Microphthalmia may be caused by changes in many genes involved in the early development of the eye, most of which have not been identified. The condition may also result from a chromosomal abnormality affecting one or more genes. Most genetic changes associated with isolated microphthalmia have been identified only in very small numbers of affected individuals.
Microphthalmia occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 individuals.
Isolated microphthalmia is sometimes inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition. In some cases, parents of affected individuals have less severe eye abnormalities.
Published Date: November 01, 2011Published By: National Institutes of Health