Marfan syndrome can affect vision in several ways. About half of people with MFS develop an eye problem. The most well known of the problems is the tendency for the eye lens to slip (dislocate) out of place because of weakened connective tissues that hold it in position.

Other problems include:

  • astigmatism (abnormal curvature of either the lens or the front of the eye (the cornea)),
  • tear of the retina (the light-sensitive nerve layer at the back of the eye)
  • glaucoma (increased pressure inside the eye that damages the eye and the optic nerve), and
  • cataract (loss of transparency of the lens).

Symptoms and management

The symptoms are various disturbances of vision, including blurring, or a halo of light, or dark patches in the line of sight. There may be pain in the eyes. If there are any concerns it is important to get the eyesight checked by an optometrist first who will ask for the help of an ophthalmologist depending on the type of problem.

If there is a sudden loss or partial loss of vision this should be managed as an emergency and urgently checked by an Emergency Department Ophthalmologist. 

Eye problems in MFS can lead to permanent loss of vision. For this reason it is important that the eyes are checked for complications and (like the heart and aorta) complications are treated as early as possible to avoid or reduce long term problems.

There are a number of treatments available. Medicines can be given in the form of eye drops. Structural problems may require glasses or contact lenses, laser therapy or surgery.

Again, like surgery to the heart and aorta, laser and surgical treatments for the eye have taken ‘leaps and bounds’ in the last 20-30 years in improving outcomes in MFS.

(Review date August 2019)

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