A medical term for "small eye."

It's usually noticed right after birth, when somebody notices "Why is one eyelid more droopy than the other?"

Usually if you see this, it's prudent to have it checked out as soon as possible. It's usually a congenital defect, although it's sometimes genetic as well. If it's suspected you'll usually get referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist to see if there are any further problems such as a tumor, or anophthalmia. If you're diagnosed, you usually are referred to a geneticist, who can tell you if you're at risk of having other children with the affliction (very very rare). One report from a prospective study of 50,000 newborns found an incidence of microphthalmia of 0.22 per 1,000 live births.

It usually occurs in one eye, although every so often there is a bilateral (on both sides) occurrance.

Microphthalmia shouldn't affect your vision, unless you have other things such as a detatched retina. The real problem with having microphthalmia is that the eye socket, the orbit bone, only grows when it receives pressure from the eye. If the eye doesn't grow, or grows slowly, it doesn't stimulate the surrounding bone to expand. Luckily, a hard contact lens can be prescribed by a trained ocularist (relatively few out there, in major cities mostly). In extreme cases where there are other complications, the eye could have to be removed, and a glass eye put in, but they are virtually impossible to detect from a real eye, I've seen them. You can even drive a car, so long as you have vision in your other eye, I asked the DMV.

As a matter of fact, I am wearing a hard contact lens for this. When I was younger, I had to go to Manhattan every year to be fitted for a new lens, as you grow out of the old one. It's quite simple to use. It's polished, hand-made ceramic, larger than a soft contact lens, and goes over the eye. You need to leave it out overnight though. Since my eye is slightly discolored, I have one painted on the outside to match my other eye, and it looks perfect. So perfect in fact that my eye doctor didn't notice I had it in.

There are support groups for people with this condition, but there are people out there who live normal lives. A famous example is Peter Falk, who played Columbo.

ICAN (International children's anophthalmia network) is a family run support group for individuals with microphthalmia and their families. The support group puts out a newsletter 3-4 times a year, provides referrals for local resources, and has a telephone helpline and has family gatherings.
ican web page at
e-mail aemcgenetics@icdc.com
American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and reconstruvtive Surgery (ASOPS):
American Society of Ocularists (ASO): (405)399-0747
National Society of Genetic Counselors(NSGC): (610)872-7608
American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG): (301)571-1825

If you have any questions, /msg me.