Primary aphakia: clinical recognition is the key to diagnosis

J AAPOS. 2022 Dec;26(6):298.e1-298.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2022.07.012. Epub 2022 Sep 29.


Purpose: To describe the presentation and treatment outcomes of a cohort of children with primary aphakia (PA).

Methods: Clinical photographs and ultrasound biomicroscopy (UBM) images of children presenting with sclerocornea and undetermined anterior segment dysgenesis between July 2017 and December 2020 were reviewed retrospectively. Children who had no crystalline lens visible on UBM were included.

Results: A total of 124 UBM images were captured for 124 children with cloudy corneas. Twelve children were identified with congenital primary aphakia: 5 had bilateral buphthalmos, 2 had buphthalmos in one eye and microphthalmos in the other, and 5 had bilateral sclerocornea-microphthalmia complex. All patients had a peculiar silvery-blue corneal appearance, with fine vascularization on the corneal surface. The overall corneal thickness was 409.1 ± 8.7 μm. The intraocular pressure (IOP) in eyes with glaucoma was 24.5 ± 7.3 mm Hg; in microphthalmic eyes, 11.4 ± 3.4 mm Hg (P <0.001). The raised IOP was treated with limited trans-scleral cyclophotocoagulation under transillumination and topical antiglaucoma medications. Children with glaucoma gained ambulatory vision with spectacles.

Conclusions: Congenital primary aphakia has a characteristic clinical appearance and may present as buphthalmos or microphthalmos, depending on the extent of dysgenesis. Incisional surgery may result in phthisis because of ciliary body dysgenesis and unpredictable aqueous production.

MeSH terms

  • Aphakia* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Glaucoma* / congenital
  • Humans
  • Hydrophthalmos*
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Microphthalmos* / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Aphakia, congenital primary
  • Sclerocornea
  • Glaucoma 3, Primary Congenital, A