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Question:
What is staphyloma?

Answer:
Staphyloma is the term for a thinning of the outer, white coat of the eye (the sclera) in which the underlying pigmented tissue then adds its color to the thinned sclera, giving an appearance of bluish to almost black color. Staphyloma occur in the front of the eye mostly as a response to trauma or infection in which the scleral architecture has been disturbed and the internal pressure of the eye stretches the weak point causing the protrusion and typical appearance. Rarely staphylomas can be caused by surgical weakening of the sclera at some point.

Posterior staphylomas are more commonly congenital (at birth) or as a manifestation of more extreme myopia (nearsightedness). The congenital staphylomas occur near the optic disc which is commonly of normal size, but frequently the vision is substantially lowered in these cases. When related to myopia, the vision correction or disturbance is usually from the myopia alone although the staphylomatous protrusion in the back of the eye can contribute to visual distortion. 

There is no specific treatment for this condition but some have applied banked sclera to reinforce anterior staphylomas that appear threatening to erode into the eye.

Answered by: Richard Bensinger, MD  Dr. Richard Bensinger

Categories: Eye Diseases

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Answered: Apr 19, 2012

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