Demographics and histopathological characteristics of enucleated microphthalmic globes

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 28;12(1):5283. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-09261-2.


Microphthalmia is a rare ocular anomaly with a poorly understood etiology that is most likely related to heritable and/or environmental factors. Many papers have been published pertaining to the clinical manifestations and management of this condition; however, few reports have reported detailed histopathological findings, which are the focus of this study, in addition to highlighting the basic demographics in these cases. This was a retrospective, observational study of all consecutive enucleated microphthalmic globes (with or without cysts) at 2 tertiary eye hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Globes were classified into 2 groups: severe microphthalmos (axial length or mean diameter less than 10 mm in infancy or 12 mm after age 1 year) and mild microphthalmos based on larger measurements. Clinical and demographic data collected included sex, age at enucleation, eye involvement, nationality/region, consanguinity, family history of eye anomaly, pregnancy, systemic disease, or syndromes. For histopathological data, a descriptive analysis was mostly performed. For correlations of some of our qualitative data, Fisher's exact test was used. Eleven cases (6 mild and 5 severe microphthalmos) were initially identified with a female to male ratio of 4:7. Ten patients were Saudis, 7 of whom were from the central region. Consanguinity was found in 36% (4/11), and 3 of them had other ocular or systemic abnormalities (duodenal atresia, microcephaly, kidney agenesis, cryptophthalmos, and dysmorphic facial features). Histopathological data were available for 10 cases, half of which showed a coloboma and/or anterior segment anomaly. There was no significant correlation among gender, severity of microphthalmos or the presence of coloboma, although severe microphthalmic globes had a higher median of abnormal intraocular structures (9-interquartile range = 2 compared to 6-interquartile range = 1 in the mild group). Aphakia was found in half of the globes with associated anterior segment dysgenesis. We have concluded that microphthalmos is a visually disabling congenital anomaly that can be isolated or associated with other periocular or systemic anomalies, possibly in relation to consanguinity in our cases. Congenital aphakia was found in half of these cases and was mostly associated with absent Descemet's membrane and agenesis of anterior chamber angle structures, supporting previously suggested embryological concepts. These findings necessitate further wider genetic testing and proper premarital counseling in Saudi Arabia.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Coloboma*
  • Demography
  • Eye Abnormalities* / complications
  • Eye Abnormalities* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microphthalmos* / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies