Ocular manifestations in fetal alcohol syndrome

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2007 Jan-Feb;17(1):104-9. doi: 10.1177/112067210701700114.


Purpose: To report the prevalence of ocular abnormalities in a group of Portuguese children with a complete fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Methods: Complete ophthalmologic examination in a sample of consecutive children with FAS. Ocular fundus photography was carried out on the cooperative FAS children and on 25 reference children. Ocular fundus anomalies were recorded by the observation of ocular fundus photography. The ratio between the distance of the center of the disc to the fovea and optic disc diameter (DM/DD) was determined. Small optic disc was defined as a DM/DD ratio above mean control group +1 SD.

Results: The authors studied 32 children with FAS (mean age: 9 +/- 5 years; 72% boys). The mean corrected visual acuity (VA) was 0.8 +/- 0.2. Refraction ranged from -23.00 to +6.50 spherical equivalent. Ocular findings included short horizontal palpebral fissure (81% of children), strabismus (28% of children), epicanthus (27% of eyes), blepharoptosis (16% of eyes), telecanthus (13% of children), nystagmus (1 child), and cataract (1 eye). Ocular fundus photography analysis showed retinal vessel tortuosity in 30% of the eyes and optic disc hypoplasia in 25%. The mean DM/DD for the control and FAS groups was 2.72 +/- 0.20 and 2.89 +/- 0.25 (p=0.001). Forty percent of the eyes of FAS children had small optic discs.

Conclusions: The most common ocular findings were anomalies of retinal fundus and minor changes in the outer region of the eyes. The authors noted better VA and less severity of disease than others, which might be due to a different selection of patients, different pattern of alcohol consumption, or genetic differences.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / etiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Blepharoptosis / etiology
  • Cataract / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Abnormalities* / etiology
  • Eyelids / abnormalities
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nystagmus, Pathologic / etiology
  • Optic Disk / abnormalities
  • Pregnancy
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Retinal Vessels / abnormalities
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Strabismus / etiology
  • Visual Acuity