Nanophthalmos, or small eye, is a disorder limited to the eye in which it is significantly smaller than normal. It has long been known to be one of several conditions that carry a risk for a rare type of glaucoma known as angle closure glaucoma. The term microphthalmos is sometimes applied to small eyes as well but generally refers to a different condition in which there are other associated abnormalities.
This type of inherited nanophthalmos has been reported in 12 members of a 6 generation Chinese family. All were farsighted because of the small short eyeballs. The eyelids appeared to droop and the clear corneas (windshield of the eye) were small. No other eye or general problems were reported.
Based on the single family reported, the inheritance pattern suggests autosomal dominant inheritance. The eye problem appeared in a vertical pattern. Affected parents can expect that half of their children will inherit this form of nanophthalmos.
An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) would diagnose this condition. The anatomical alterations in these small eyes create a risk of acute glaucoma that requires immediate surgery. Since this is present throughout life, regular eye exams are advised. There is no impact on general health.