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Eye Problems

Chromosome defects can result in the lids not developing. A baby will be unable to see when the eyelids completely cover the eyes, or if the lids are partially separated and vision will be restricted to looking in one direction only.

The eye

The eyeballs may be absent or miniature (micro-ophthalmus). Such small eyes often have short or long  sight. The cornea is the window of the eye and an abnormal shape creates a gross distortion of vision.

Absence or poor development of the eye muscles can result in double vision and a squint (strabismus) where the eyes do not move together as a pair and occasionally the eye will be unable to move in a particular direction.

Josh had an operation on his eyes and then what a different baby! It was very hard work with Josh as he used to cry constantly, but after the operation he began to smile and laugh, it was lovely.’

Nicola had two operations for her squint and one was successful. Her eyes are almost straight and this makes such a difference. She is now a nosey baby and touches everything and is more mobile.’

Preventing eye infections

The function of the eyelids are to protect the eyes and blinking removes dust and bacteria that settle on the surface of the eye. Poor eyelid action leads to eye irritation.

When the lids are partly open there is a space where bacteria can collect and this and inefficient blinking may explain why babies can have chronic eye infections with persistent sticky eyes requiring antibiotic therapy. Careful bathing of the eyelids using sterile saline moistened buds to clean the lid edges is a good idea.

Our son had persistent sticky eyes. Even in his sleep his eyes would be partially open. We bathed them regularly and used an antibiotic cream from our GP whose expertise in eye problems was invaluable to us.’

Only one of Beth's eyes had developed and was very small. Her other eyelid never opened and drops for the daytime and ointment at night were prescribed to prevent eye infections’

Joanne was born with corneal eye opacities which appeared as a white membrane that covered part of her eyes.’

Light sensitivity

The iris is the coloured part of the eye and can be absent (aniridia), or mis-shapen (coloboma) . These defects reduce the sharpness of the image formed by the eye and are not easy to correct. They may allow excess light to enter the eye causing children to have an aversion to bright light.

Children can react badly to light levels even when the eyelids are closed, as light penetrates the eyelid and enters the eye if the pupil is missing or enlarged. Glasses with a combination of protective ultraviolet absorbing, (and possibly infra-red absorbing), lenses with a tint to reduce glare can help.

Any degree of cataract reduces vision and scatters the light entering the eye thus causing glare and sensitivity to bright light. Some relief can be obtained by using protective lenses and a peaked hat or cap to shade the eyes can also help. The jelly-like vitreous material between the lens and the retina may not be clear, and can cause similar problems to cataract. Specialist advice is always worth seeking.

Melissa's eyesight is good but a major disability is her intolerance to light which places limits on her everyday life.’

Jonathan has special glasses made by Mr. Garwood (SOFT Eye Specialist). We have been successful using them in the garden, in the shade, where he will open his eyes and look through them. He is never placed in direct sunlight, or taken outside on a very hot day, it is too dangerous.’

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