GJA3 Genetic Variation and Autosomal Dominant Congenital Cataracts and Glaucoma Following Cataract Surgery

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2023 Sep 1;141(9):872-879. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2023.3535.


Importance: The p.Asp67Tyr genetic variant in the GJA3 gene is responsible for congenital cataracts in a family with a high incidence of glaucoma following cataract surgery.

Objective: To describe the clinical features of a family with a strong association between congenital cataracts and glaucoma following cataract surgery secondary to a genetic variant in the GJA3 gene (NM_021954.4:c.199G>T, p.Asp67Tyr).

Design, setting, and participants: This was a retrospective, observational, case series, genetic association study from the University of Iowa spanning 61 years. Examined were the ophthalmic records from 1961 through 2022 of the family members of a 4-generation pedigree with autosomal dominant congenital cataracts.

Main outcomes and measures: Frequency of glaucoma following cataract surgery and postoperative complications among family members with congenital cataract due to the p.Asp67Tyr GJA3 genetic variant.

Results: Medical records were available from 11 of 12 family members (7 male [63.6%]) with congenital cataract with a mean (SD) follow-up of 30 (21.7) years (range, 0.2-61 years). Eight of 9 patients with congenital cataracts developed glaucoma, and 8 of 8 patients who had cataract surgery at age 2 years or younger developed glaucoma following cataract surgery. The only family member with congenital cataracts who did not develop glaucoma had delayed cataract surgery until 12 and 21 years of age. Five of 11 family members (45.5%) had retinal detachments after cataract extraction and vitrectomy. No patients developed retinal detachments after prophylactic 360-degree endolaser.

Conclusions and relevance: The GJA3 genetic variant, p.Asp67Tyr, was identified in a 4-generation congenital cataract pedigree from Iowa. This report suggests that patients with congenital cataract due to some GJA3 genetic variants may be at especially high risk for glaucoma following cataract surgery. Retinal detachments after cataract extraction in the first 2 years of life were also common in this family, and prophylactic retinal endolaser may be indicated at the time of surgery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cataract Extraction* / adverse effects
  • Cataract* / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Connexins* / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Glaucoma* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retina
  • Retinal Detachment*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • GJA3 protein, human
  • Connexins

Supplementary concepts

  • Cataract, Autosomal Dominant