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Eye Problems

Chromosome defects can result in the lids not developing and 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 eyeballs may be absent or miniature eye(s) (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.

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. Where 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.

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, and 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. The jelly like vitreous material between the lens and the retina may not be clear, and can cause similar problems to cataract.

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