Information for Patients
A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect.
A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or neural tube defects are structural problems that can be easy to see. To find others, like heart defects, doctors use special tests. Birth defects can range from mild to severe. Causes can include
- Exposures to medicines or chemicals. For example, alcohol abuse can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Infections during pregnancy
- Certain medicines. Before you get pregnant, talk to your health care provider about any medicines you take.
- Not getting enough of certain nutrients. For example, not getting enough folic acid before and during pregnancy is a key factor in causing neural tube defects.
For most birth defects, the cause is unknown.
Health care providers can diagnose certain birth defects during pregnancy, with prenatal tests. That's why it important to get regular prenatal care. Other birth defects may not be found until after the baby is born. Sometimes the defect is obvious right away. Other times, the health care provider may not discover it until later in life.
Babies with birth defects often need special care and treatments. The treatments may include surgery, medicines, assistive devices, and therapies.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Some eye problems are minor and don't last long. But some can lead to a permanent loss of vision.
Common eye problems include
- Refractive errors
- Cataracts - clouded lenses
- Optic nerve disorders, including glaucoma
- Retinal disorders - problems with the nerve layer at the back of the eye
- Macular degeneration - a disease that destroys sharp, central vision
- Diabetic eye problems
- Conjunctivitis - an infection also known as pinkeye
Your best defense is to have regular checkups, because eye diseases do not always have symptoms. Early detection and treatment could prevent vision loss. See an eye care professional right away if you have a sudden change in vision, if everything looks dim, or if you see flashes of light. Other symptoms that need quick attention are pain, double vision, fluid coming from the eye, and inflammation.
NIH: National Eye Institute
Microphthalmia 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.People with microphthalmia may also have a condition called coloboma. Colobomas are missing pieces of tissue in structures that form the eye. They may appear as notches or gaps in the colored part of the eye called the iris; the retina, which is the specialized light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye; the blood vessel layer under the retina called the choroid; or in the optic nerves, which carry information from the eyes to the brain. Colobomas may be present in one or both eyes and, depending on their size and location, can affect a person's vision.People with microphthalmia may also have other eye abnormalities, including clouding of the lens of the eye (cataract) and a narrowed opening of the eye (narrowed palpebral fissure). Additionally, affected individuals may have an abnormality called microcornea, in which the clear front covering of the eye (cornea) is small and abnormally curved.Between one-third and one-half of affected individuals have microphthalmia as part of a syndrome that affects other organs and tissues in the body. These forms of the condition are described as syndromic. When microphthalmia occurs by itself, it is described as nonsyndromic or isolated.