What is an Eye Coloboma?

by Aug 1, 2023

A coloboma refers to a defect that occurs when a part of an embryonic fissure fails to close completely. While colobomas can happen in various areas of the body, they most commonly affect the iris, optic nerve, and retina within the eye. Although an eye coloboma can be detected during routine eye examinations, they often present with minimal or no noticeable symptoms. However, depending on the location and severity, these eye defects can impact visual function. In this blog, we will explore different types of colobomas, their potential implications, and the available approaches for managing their symptoms.


The Three Common Types of Eye Colobomas

Within the eye, three primary locations are susceptible to colobomas: the iris, optic nerve, and retina. The iris, which is responsible for giving our eyes their color and controlling the size of the pupil, can exhibit a visible coloboma during a simple observation. An iris coloboma manifests as an incomplete or open area in the bottom part of the iris. On the other hand, colobomas affecting the optic nerve and retina cannot be discerned without specialized equipment used to examine the internal structures of the eye.


Implications and Potential Symptoms

When a coloboma forms in any of these eye structures, it can potentially impair their respective functions, leading to various symptoms. Iris colobomas, for instance, may result in increased sensitivity to light, known as photophobia, or even double vision. Conversely, colobomas affecting the optic nerve and retina can often be associated with reduced vision, misalignment of the eyes (known as an eye turn), or rapid, involuntary eye movements (referred to as nystagmus). These symptoms can vary depending on the severity and specific location of the coloboma within the eye.


Managing the Impacts of an Eye Coloboma

Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment or cure available for colobomas themselves. As such, the focus lies on managing the symptoms and effects of these eye defects to enhance visual function as best as possible. Treatment approaches will typically depend on the specific needs and challenges presented by each individual case. Addressing photophobia caused by iris colobomas may involve wearing tinted or polarized lenses to reduce light sensitivity. In cases where visual acuity is compromised due to colobomas affecting the optic nerve or retina, vision aids such as glasses, contact lenses, or even low vision rehabilitation programs can be beneficial. Additionally, individuals with colobomas may benefit from regular eye examinations and consultations with eye care professionals to monitor any changes in their condition and adjust treatment plans accordingly.


Seeking Professional Guidance

If you suspect the presence of a coloboma or experience any associated symptoms, it is crucial to consult with an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation. They can employ specialized equipment and assessments to accurately diagnose and determine the extent of the coloboma. Moreover, eye care professionals can offer guidance and help devise a personalized management plan catered to your specific needs and circumstances including contact lenses or tinted glasses and specialized vision training.



Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about eye coloboma. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, Patricia Jones, and Joseph Goldberg provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.


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