Stickler syndrome

Stickler syndrome is a genetic disorder that can cause serious vision, hearing and joint problems. Also known as hereditary progressive arthro-ophthalmopathy, Stickler syndrome is usually diagnosed during infancy or childhood.

Children who have Stickler syndrome often have distinctive facial features — prominent eyes, a small nose with a scooped out facial appearance and a receding chin. They are often born with an opening in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate).

While there is no cure for Stickler syndrome, treatments can help control symptoms and prevent complications. In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct some of the physical abnormalities associated with Stickler syndrome.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

The signs and symptoms of Stickler syndrome — and the severity of those signs and symptoms — can vary widely from person to person.

  • Eye problems. In addition to severe nearsightedness, children who have Stickler syndrome often experience cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachments.
  • Hearing difficulties. The extent of hearing loss varies among people who have Stickler syndrome. It usually affects the ability to hear high frequencies.
  • Bone and joint abnormalities. Children who have Stickler syndrome often have overly flexible joints and are more likely to develop abnormal curvatures of the spine, such as scoliosis. Osteoarthritis can begin in adolescence.

When to see a doctor

Regular follow-up visits, as well as yearly visits to doctors specializing in eye disorders, are crucial to monitor any progression of symptoms. Early treatment can help prevent life-altering complications. Hearing should be checked every six months in children through age 5 and then yearly thereafter.

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