Aphakia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments Available
The lens of your eye is a flexible, clear structure that helps your eye focus properly on objects. Aphakia is the name for a condition in which the person does not have an eye lens. It occurs most often in adults who have cataracts, but it can affect people of all ages.
Causes of aphakia
There are three leading causes of aphakia:
- Cataracts give your eyes a milky condition and can cloud your vision. They are the result of the clumping together of proteins on the lens and are common as people age. Although older adults have the highest incidence of cataracts by far, babies can be born with the disease, either because of genetics or exposure to an illness such as chickenpox.
- Sometimes, babies are born without lenses due to genetics. The two types of genetic aphakia are primary congenital aphakia (the baby is born without lenses because of a genetic mutation or developmental issue) and secondary congenital aphakia (the baby has a lens, but it either detaches or becomes absorbed before birth).
- Injuries and accidents to the eyes can cause damage to the lens or lead to its detachment.
The primary symptom of aphakia is the lack of an eye lens. This issue can lead to other symptoms, such as:
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty focusing
- Problems with color vision (colors appearing faded)
- Light sensitivity
- Trouble seeing objects up close (farsightedness)
- Issues with focusing on an object as you move closer to or farther away from it
A standard eye exam with your local Optometrist can diagnose aphakia. This condition is often treatable in both children and adults. In fact, it’s important to treat babies with aphakia as soon as possible because their eyes’ development depends on the vision being normal. In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Prosthetic contact lenses are another excellent option. New technologies have made fitting prosthetic lenses easier and faster than ever. These lenses can mask the appearance of aphakic conditions and other visible scarring or damage to the eye. They can also reduce the amount of light coming in, significantly improving light sensitivity.
Possible complications from aphakia
Most people recover from aphakia with no complications. However, there are a few things that can go wrong:
- Aphakic glaucoma. If a person has surgery to treat aphakia, one of the risks is aphakic glaucoma, a condition in which pressure inside the eye builds up to the point that it damages the optic nerve. Untreated glaucoma can lead to vision loss.
- Retinal detachment. If your aphakia is the result of an eye injury, you may also experience retinal detachment. If you see spots or flashes of light, notice that you see colors differently, or lose your peripheral vision, see your eye doctor immediately because this condition can lead to total blindness without treatment.
- Vitreous detachment. The vitreous humor (a gel-like substance inside the eye) can pull away from the retina. In and of itself, this doesn’t typically cause any issues. However, in some cases, the vitreous humor pulls on the retina so hard that it causes damage, such as a hole in the retina or retinal detachment. If you are diagnosed with vitreous detachment, see your eye care practitioner regularly to be sure that it isn’t causing any significant problems.
At Miami Contact Lens Institute, we offer a wide range of services and types of lenses to treat many different conditions. Our services include comprehensive eye exams, pediatric exams, myopia management, and emergency eye care. We can address a variety of symptoms, including aphakia, keratoconus, post-surgery ectasia, pellucid marginal degeneration, and more. Please contact our Miami or Weston location to schedule an appointment.