What is microphthalmia?

Microphthalmia means "small eyes." People who are born with very small eyes have microphthalmia. They may wear plastic shells that look like eyes. The shells help their faces grow like other people's. The shells have a clear center to look through if the people can see. Sometimes people who have microphthalmia also have cataracts, glaucoma, aniridia and colobomas. You can look up those eye problems on this website.

What causes microphthalmia?

No one knows for sure what causes microphthalmia. Before babies are born, their eyes usually grow. The babies whose eyes do not grow enough before they are born have microphthalmia.

What kind of vision do people have who have microphthalmia?

Some people who have microphthalmia can see quite well. Others only see shapes or light and dark. Some people who have microphthalmia also have hyperopia. That means they see better in the distance.

What will help you if you have microphthalmia?

  1. Wear glasses if they help you see better.
  2. Wear plastic shells if you have them. Get them checked every year by the person who makes them. Keep them clean. If they make your eyes itch, go see the doctor. They will not make your eyes itch if they are clean and fit well.
  3. Try to get lights that you can make bright or dim. Sit and stand with the light behind you or next to you.
  4. Wear sunglasses or a cap with a brim when it is bright outside.
  5. Make things look bigger if it helps you see better. 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.
  6. Take a break from looking if your eyes are tired.
  7. You may want to learn braille. You may want to use listening to learn. You may want to learn by touching things.

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