Aphakia is a condition where there are no visible or palpable hairs on the body, face, hands or feet. A person with aphakia may have thinning hair growth, but it does not grow out in patches like normal hair does. Instead it grows in clumps (pseudo-aphakic) which do not appear anywhere else on the body except under your arms and legs. They are usually white in color and look like tiny snowflakes. These pseudo-aphakic hairs are very hard to see because they grow only at the surface of the skin. They can sometimes be mistaken for a mole or other benign growth, so they often go undetected until it’s too late.
The term “pseudo” means false, but the appearance of these hairs is actually true; they’re just not real hairs! The name “Aphakia” comes from the Greek word “aphakia,” meaning hairless.
In most cases, aphakia is caused by a genetic disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). EB causes the body to produce little or no natural collagen, which makes the skin fragile and prone to breakage.
Without proper blood supply, nerves and muscles cannot function properly. The result is thinning hair follicles and balding areas on the head, neck and scalp.
Treatment for aphakia is a surgery to place an artificial lens (IOL) inside the eye. The IOL is made of hard plastic and designed to improve vision and reduce the risk of retinal detachment.
While the patient does not have natural eye lashes, hair or eyebrows, they do have normal eye brows. With the IOL in place, the eye will no longer appear as an empty socket.
Aphakic people have very unique needs because they are deprived of a sense that the rest of us take for granted. They can see okay, but depth perception is always a challenge.
That’s why it’s not unusual for them to wear thick glasses or eye patches to improve their vision.
By nature, all aphakics are introverts who prefer to stick within the safe confines of their homes. While they are not hermits by any means, they tend to prefer the company of other people with similar medical conditions.
Most people with aphakia don’t have the best vision because their eyes cannot adapt to new environments as well as normal eyes can. This is because the lens of normal eyes allows the retina to adjust to changes in light and dark.
Without a lens, however, the retina doesn’t get the message that it needs to change.
Aphakic people have a more difficult time discerning shapes, sizes and colors. They cannot see things in motion very well.
Even up close, their vision is not as strong as the average eye. This is why they tend to wear thick glasses or eye patches over their eyes. The eye patch is designed to help them see close, far and everywhere in between.
Some people with aphakia can see better with a lens in place, but others cannot. Either way, the lens is usually made of a hard plastic that can be easily scratched or cracked.
The lens must be kept in a protective case or it will quickly become useless. If you are interested in helping an aphakic person, please be careful when looking at their IOL.
Even with their vision problems, most aphakics enjoy life and love the company of their family and friends.
Sources & references used in this article:
Complications, adverse events, and additional intraocular surgery 1 year after cataract surgery in the infant Aphakia Treatment Study by DA Plager, MJ Lynn, EG Buckley, ME Wilson… – Ophthalmology, 2011 – Elsevier
Prevalence of cataract and pseudophakia/aphakia among adults in the United States. by N Congdon, JR Vingerling, BE Klein… – … (Chicago, Ill.: 1960), 2004 – europepmc.org
The correction of aphakia: XXXVI Edward Jackson memorial lecture by HE Kaufman – American journal of ophthalmology, 1980 – ajo.com
Keratomileusis for myopia and aphakia by JI Barraquer – Ophthalmology, 1981 – Elsevier
Retinal detachment in aphakia by EWD Norton – American journal of ophthalmology, 1964 – ajo.com
Aphakia, a new mutation in the mouse by DONS VARNUM, LC STEVENS – Journal of Heredity, 1968 – academic.oup.com