A new approach to the classification of neonatal corneal opacities

Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2012 Sep;23(5):344-54. doi: 10.1097/ICU.0b013e328356893d.


Purpose of review: Neonatal corneal opacification (NCO) describes the loss of corneal transparency at or soon after (<4 weeks) birth. Historically, the literature is strewn with terminology that has been at best misleading and at worst, a hindrance to selecting the appropriate treatment plan for, accurate genotype-phenotype correlation of and a better understanding of the entities that present in the clinic.

Recent findings: Recent literature has demonstrated that certain terms such as 'sclerocornea' are unhelpful when alluding to total NCO. The term Peters anomaly has also become a 'waste paper basket' diagnosis for anterior segment developmental anomalies. A new classification of NCO is suggested by the author, which allows a better understanding of the cause of NCO and the likely prognosis of therapeutic intervention.

Summary: This classification system should help the clinician understand the cause of NCO, better explain this to parents and recognize those conditions in which therapeutic intervention may be helpful. By understanding which conditions have a better chance of interventional success and by employing outcome definitions that take into consideration the developing neurobiological system of the infant brain and the effects of vision on its development, it is hoped more children with NCO will attain useful visual function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cornea / abnormalities
  • Corneal Opacity / classification*
  • Corneal Opacity / diagnosis
  • Corneal Opacity / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Prognosis