What is aniridia?

The name aniridia means "no iris" in Latin. The iris is the colored part of the eye. It is a muscle that opens and closes the pupil. The pupil looks like a black dot in the middle of the iris. It is a round hole in the iris that lets light come into the eye. People who have aniridia do not have an iris or only have part of an iris. They have no muscle to open and close the pupil. The pupil does not get small when there is a lot of light. The pupil does not get large when there is only a little light. It stays the same all of the time.

What causes aniridia?

Aniridia is an inherited eye condition. That means that a baby is born with it. When people have a baby, the baby's body has many things that the parents bodies have. For example, a mother may have curly hair, and her baby may have curly hair just like hers. The father may have brown eyes, and his child will probably have brown eyes, too. But it is possible that two parents who have curly hair could have a baby with straight hair. Two parents who have brown eyes could have a baby who has blue eyes. They have the gene that makes straight hair and blue eyes hidden in their bodies.

Parents who have children who have aniridia may not have known that they have aniridia in their bodies. It was hidden. They may not know that aniridia is in their body cells until they have a child who has aniridia. Or they may remember that someone else in the family had aniridia.

What kind of vision do people have who have aniridia?

People who have aniridia do not see as clearly as people who are fully sighted. They may not see things on the sides or on the ground when they are looking ahead.

It may be hard for people who have aniridia to go from a place with bright light to a place with dim light or from a place with dim light to a place with bright light. It is also hard for them to see in places that have too much light. All the light may make things look blurry.

What will help you see if you have aniridia?

  1. Sunglasses and a hat with a dark brim will help you see in a place that has bright lights. It will also be easier to go from a bright place to a dark place if you wear sunglasses and a hat in the bright place.
  2. Keep the light behind you or next to you. If you are facing the light, it will be hard to see people or things between you and the light. Try to get indoor lights that you can make dimmer or brighter for yourself.
  3. Make things look bigger. The easy way to make things look bigger is to move them close to you or move yourself close to them. Use a bookstand to hold your book so that you can sit up to look at it up close. Maybe a magnifier will help you see things close to you. You can make print and pictures bigger on the computer or with a copy machine. Eye glasses may not be helpful for aniridia.
  4. If it is hard for you to see the white board at school or to see things in a museum or on the wall in a restaurant, a pair of binoculars or a monocular telescope may help.
  5. Be sure to see your doctor every year because people who have aniridia can get other eye problems. The problems are called glaucoma and cataracts. The doctor can take care of these problems. If they are not taken care of, there will be a lot of pain and you will lose vision.

Back to Low Vision Directory