Eyelid Coloboma Workup

Updated: Nov 03, 2023
  • Author: Saif Aldeen Saleh Alryalat, MD; Chief Editor: Hampton Roy, Sr, MD  more...
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Approach Considerations

When encountering a patient with eyelid coloboma, it's crucial to adopt a systematic approach to determine the underlying etiology, potential complications, and the best therapeutic interventions. Two primary considerations stand out:

1. Determine if the coloboma is isolated or syndromic:

Before embarking on any intervention, it's pivotal to ascertain whether the eyelid coloboma is an isolated defect or part of a broader syndromic presentation. This distinction guides further investigations and management:

  • Medical history and physical examination: Begin with a detailed prenatal, birth, and family history to identify any potential genetic or environmental factors. A comprehensive physical examination should be conducted to check for other congenital anomalies or dysmorphological features.

  • Genetic counseling and testing: If a syndromic cause is suspected based on clinical findings or family history, consider referring the patient to a genetic counselor. Genetic testing can provide definitive evidence of a syndrome and offers insight into recurrence risks and potential systemic implications.

  • Ophthalmologic examination: A thorough ophthalmologic evaluation can identify other ocular abnormalities often seen in syndromic cases. This might include anomalies of the iris, retina, or optic nerve.

2. Assess the potential visual and cosmetic impact:

The implications of an eyelid coloboma extend beyond mere aesthetics. It's essential to assess if the defect is large enough to cause visual disturbances or if it primarily poses a cosmetic concern.

  • Corneal protection and lubrication: Eyelids play a crucial role in safeguarding the cornea and ensuring adequate lubrication. A significant eyelid defect can lead to exposure keratitis due to an inability to adequately moisten or protect the eye. Symptoms might include persistent dryness, irritation, or a foreign body sensation. Regular slit-lamp examinations are necessary to monitor the corneal health in such cases.

  • Visual acuity and amblyopia risk: Especially in children, a large eyelid defect can obstruct the visual axis, posing a risk for amblyopia. Early and consistent monitoring of visual development is essential.

  • Cosmetic assessment: Even if the coloboma doesn't pose a direct threat to vision, the cosmetic implications can be profound. It's essential to evaluate the patient's (or guardian's, in case of minors) concerns about appearance and discuss potential surgical and non-surgical interventions.


Imaging Studies

Imaging is indicated when suspecting an underlaying syndrome. For instance, CT scan of the orbits and the skull might be indicated in patients with Treacher Collins syndrome.


Other Tests

Although still not well defined, genetic tests can be directed toward genes known to be associated with syndromic coloboma, including Fraser syndrome and Goldenhar syndrome  [2]