Ophthalmological Disorders

Adapted from: Patterson, Bonnie (2003). "Down Syndrome Medical Issues Research." PowerPoint Presentation given at Healthcare Symposium. Shriner's Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, June 21, 2003.

Ophthalmologic disorders are very prevalent among individuals with Down syndrome. Of these the most common is strabismus, affecting 23 - 44 percent of individuals with Down syndrome. Amblyopia (decreased vision in one eye) is also common, but less frequent, occurring approximately 12% of the time. Cataracts also occur more frequently in individuals with Down syndrome. Although usually considered an issue affecting mature adults, cataract formation typically begins in adolescence, possibly as a result of the early aging process typically seen. Additionally, 5 to 8 percent of individuals are affected by keratoconus, or an anterior bulging of the cornea. Keratoconus is the second most common cause of blindness in individuals with Down syndrome. Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) is also relatively common among adolescents, as are nasolacrimal duct stenosis and nystagmus. Refractive errors are also often present which may be easily corrected by optical lenses. Due to the increased incidence of these disorders in persons with Down syndrome, a thorough ophthalmologic exam is recommended with each check up.