birth defect

Stephen Maidment spkaslm at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Aug 14 11:12:28 EST 1995


In article <40g1af$mb7 at ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, shiela at ix.netcom.com (Anderson ) says:
>
>I hope someone out there can help me out, or at least point me in the
>right direction.  
>
>A friend of mine has a daughter, 8 years old now that was born without
>an eye.  I heard somewhere that there is a surgical procedure that will
>allow sight (as long as there is an in-tact optic nerve).  Does anyone
>know of this procedure? 
>
>Shiela
>shiela at ix.netcom.com


Forgive me if you have already received my reply but according to this wretched machine the
message did not transmit properly. 
What I said in my reply was that it is unlikely that any such procedure exists. The problem 
is that the visual pathways have to have been active from birth in order to establish the 
correct connections and disconnect unwanted ones. This process is usually complete by around 
the age of 5 years, after which no further development can take place. Any such procedure, to 
be successful would have to be performed on an infant and would be unlikely to succeed in an 
eight year old.
Even if she can see with her existing eye, this will transmit visual information predominantly
to one side of the brain only. The other side of the brain, even if served by an intact optic 
nerve will have never received any input from this nerve and will therefore have been unable to
develop into functional visual cortex.
The short answer is that it is unlikely that any amount of surgical intervention will enable her
to see at this late stage in her development. I would stress that this reply is purely conjecture,
I am not a neurosurgeon so I would be interested to hear from anyone who has a different opinion.

Steve maidment. 



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