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Question:
My father was born with a white covering on one eye which never went away. Eventually that eye was removed. He was born in 1897. What would that condition be called today. Is it genetic?

Answer:
This is difficult to answer accurately. You probably have mostly family "legends" to describe this although there may be a picture in the family album. Eyes may appear white due to corneal disease (the window at the front of the eye being opaque) or due to uncontrolled glaucoma which can cause the eye in infancy to enlarge and become white in coloration. Many of these however will not cause the need for removal of an eye which is usually done for pain in the presence of no vision. Eyes can be misshapen and turn whitish in color. Cataracts may give the pupil a white appearance and a tumor called retinoblastoma can grow large and whiten the eye – although in 1897 this probably would have led to death. Almost all known conditions which cause surface whitening of the eye are artifacts of birth and are not genetic so you almost certainly have nothing personally to worry about.

Answered by: Richard Bensinger, MD  Dr. Richard Bensinger

Categories: Eye Diseases, Eye Conditions

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Answered: Nov 04, 2012

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