Ocular Involvement in the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Surv Ophthalmol. Jan-Feb 1987;31(4):277-84. doi: 10.1016/0039-6257(87)90028-2.


Maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy causes malformations of the eyes with serious consequences to the vision of the affected children. A high percentage (up to 90%) of children suffering from the fetal alcohol syndrome have eye abnormalities, including malformation in the outer eye region, disorders of motility, and defects of different intraocular structures. Two kinds of malformations stand out as most typical--hypoplasia of the optic nervehead (up to 48%) and increased tortuosity of the retinal vessels, especially of the arteries (up to 49%). Visual acuity is often moderately or severely reduced. Considering the developmental timing of different tissues of the eye, one can presume that there is a risk for deleterious effects of alcohol on eye structures at any point of time from early gestation until development is completed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anterior Eye Segment / abnormalities
  • Child
  • Eye Abnormalities*
  • Eye Diseases / diagnosis
  • Eye Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / complications*
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Optic Disk / abnormalities
  • Pregnancy
  • Refractive Errors / etiology
  • Retinal Vessels / abnormalities
  • Strabismus / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Visual Acuity