Purpose: While intrafamilial morphologic heterogeneity of autosomal dominant congenital cataracts has been well established, interocular variation in individual patients of described pedigrees is small. The authors describe a seven-generation family with 48 of 138 individuals known to be affected with autosomal dominant congenital cataracts of the pulverulent type. Affected patients exhibit a seemingly random expression of either unilateral or bilateral lens opacities.
Methods: Ophthalmic and medical histories were obtained, complete ophthalmologic examinations were performed, blood samples were drawn, and transformed lymphoblastoid lines were established on 53 patients. Eighty-five members of the family were unable to be examined.
Results: Twenty-eight of the 53 individuals examined had congenital cataracts. Of these patients, 19 eyes (8 right eyes and 11 left eyes) were unilateral and 9 were bilateral. The clinically unaffected eye in patients with unilateral cataracts showed no evidence of lenticular opacity under detailed slit-lamp examination. Severity of the cataracts included a subtle unilateral zonular cataract with 20/20 visual acuity, bilateral inner fetal nuclear pulverulent opacities with 20/16 visual acuity in both eyes, and dense unilateral and bilateral nuclear cataracts requiring early surgical removal. Incorporating the historic data on patients who were not examined, we found 48 affected members (28 unilateral, 17 bilateral, 3 obligate carriers who were not examined).
Conclusions: Hereditary cataracts typically are symmetric in affected individuals. The authors describe a large pedigree with the apparently random expression of an autosomal dominant gene as either unilateral or bilateral cataract. To their knowledge, this is the first such family described in the literature. Currently, work is under way to determine if the causative gene is linked to previously defined cataract loci on chromosomes 1, 2, or 16.