Leber congenital amaurosis, also known as LCA, is an eye disorder that is present from birth (congenital). This condition primarily affects the retina, which is the specialized tissue at the back of the eye that detects light and color. People with this disorder typically have severe visual impairment beginning at birth or shortly afterward. The visual impairment tends to be severe and may worsen over time.
Leber congenital amaurosis is also associated with other vision problems, including an increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), involuntary movements of the eyes (nystagmus), and extreme farsightedness (hyperopia). The pupils, which usually expand and contract in response to the amount of light entering the eye, do not react normally to light. Instead, they expand and contract more slowly than normal, or they may not respond to light at all.
A specific behavior called Franceschetti's oculo-digital sign is characteristic of Leber congenital amaurosis. This sign consists of affected individuals poking, pressing, and rubbing their eyes with a knuckle or finger. Poking their eyes often results in the sensation of flashes of light called phosphenes. Researchers suspect that this behavior may contribute to deep-set eyes in affected children.
In very rare cases, delayed development and intellectual disability have been reported in people with the features of Leber congenital amaurosis. Because of the visual loss, affected children may become isolated. Providing children with opportunities to play, hear, touch, understand and other early educational interventions may prevent developmental delays in children with Leber congenital amaurosis.
At least 20 genetic types of Leber congenital amaurosis have been described. The types are distinguished by their genetic cause, patterns of vision loss, and related eye abnormalities.
Leber congenital amaurosis occurs in 2 to 3 per 100,000 newborns. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in children.
Leber congenital amaurosis can result from variants (also known as mutations) in at least 20 genes, all of which are necessary for function of the retina and normal vision. These genes play a variety of roles in the development and function of the retina. For example, some of the genes associated with this disorder are necessary for the normal development of light-detecting cells called photoreceptors. Other genes are involved in phototransduction, the process by which light entering the eye is converted into electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain. Still other genes play a role in the function of cilia, which are microscopic finger-like projections that stick out from the surface of many types of cells. Cilia are found in the retina's photoreceptors and are necessary for vision.
Variants in any of the genes associated with Leber congenital amaurosis disrupt the development and function of the retina, resulting in early vision loss. Variants in the CEP290, CRB1, GUCY2D, and RPE65 genes are the most common causes of Leber congenital amaurosis, while variants in the other genes generally account for a smaller percentage of cases. In about 30 percent of all people with Leber congenital amaurosis, the cause of the disorder is unknown, though research is ongoing.
Leber congenital amaurosis usually has an autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. Autosomal recessive inheritance means both copies of the gene in each cell have variants. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry only one copy of the altered gene, and therefore they typically do not show any signs and symptoms of the disease.
When Leber congenital amaurosis is caused by varaints in the CRX or IMPDH1 genes, the disorder has an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Autosomal dominant inheritance means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder. In most of these cases, an affected person inherits a gene mutation from one affected parent. Other cases result from new variants and occur in people with no history of the disorder in their family.
Other Names for This Condition
- Amaurosis, Leber congenital
- Congenital amaurosis of retinal origin
- Congenital retinal blindness
- Dysgenesis neuroepithelialis retinae
- Hereditary epithelial dysplasia of retina
- Hereditary retinal aplasia
- Heredoretinopathia congenitalis
- Leber abiotrophy
- Leber congenital tapetoretinal degeneration
- Leber's amaurosis
Additional Information & Resources
Genetic Testing Information
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 1
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 10
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 11
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 12
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 13
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 14
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 15
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 16
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 17
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 18
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 2
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 3
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 4
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 5
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 6
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 7
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 8
- Genetic Testing Registry: Leber congenital amaurosis 9
Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center
Research Studies from ClinicalTrials.gov
Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM
- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 1
- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 10
- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 11
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- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 14
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- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 19
- LEBER CONGENITAL AMAUROSIS 2
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Scientific Articles on PubMed
- Bainbridge JW, Smith AJ, Barker SS, Robbie S, Henderson R, Balaggan K, Viswanathan A, Holder GE, Stockman A, Tyler N, Petersen-Jones S, Bhattacharya SS, Thrasher AJ, Fitzke FW, Carter BJ, Rubin GS, Moore AT, Ali RR. Effect of gene therapy on visual function in Leber's congenital amaurosis. N Engl J Med. 2008 May 22;358(21):2231-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0802268. Epub 2008 Apr 27. Citation on PubMed
- Chung DC, Traboulsi EI. Leber congenital amaurosis: clinical correlations with genotypes, gene therapy trials update, and future directions. J AAPOS. 2009 Dec;13(6):587-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2009.10.004. Citation on PubMed
- Cremers FP, van den Hurk JA, den Hollander AI. Molecular genetics of Leber congenital amaurosis. Hum Mol Genet. 2002 May 15;11(10):1169-76. doi: 10.1093/hmg/11.10.1169. Citation on PubMed
- den Hollander AI, Roepman R, Koenekoop RK, Cremers FP. Leber congenital amaurosis: genes, proteins and disease mechanisms. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2008 Jul;27(4):391-419. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 Jun 1. Citation on PubMed
- Hanein S, Perrault I, Gerber S, Tanguy G, Barbet F, Ducroq D, Calvas P, Dollfus H, Hamel C, Lopponen T, Munier F, Santos L, Shalev S, Zafeiriou D, Dufier JL, Munnich A, Rozet JM, Kaplan J. Leber congenital amaurosis: comprehensive survey of the genetic heterogeneity, refinement of the clinical definition, and genotype-phenotype correlations as a strategy for molecular diagnosis. Hum Mutat. 2004 Apr;23(4):306-17. doi: 10.1002/humu.20010. Citation on PubMed
- Koenekoop RK, Cremers FP, den Hollander AI. Leber congenital amaurosis: ciliary proteins on the move. Ophthalmic Genet. 2007 Sep;28(3):111-2. doi: 10.1080/13816810701537457. No abstract available. Citation on PubMed
- Koenekoop RK. An overview of Leber congenital amaurosis: a model to understand human retinal development. Surv Ophthalmol. 2004 Jul-Aug;49(4):379-98. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2004.04.003. Citation on PubMed
- Maguire AM, High KA, Auricchio A, Wright JF, Pierce EA, Testa F, Mingozzi F, Bennicelli JL, Ying GS, Rossi S, Fulton A, Marshall KA, Banfi S, Chung DC, Morgan JI, Hauck B, Zelenaia O, Zhu X, Raffini L, Coppieters F, De Baere E, Shindler KS, Volpe NJ, Surace EM, Acerra C, Lyubarsky A, Redmond TM, Stone E, Sun J, McDonnell JW, Leroy BP, Simonelli F, Bennett J. Age-dependent effects of RPE65 gene therapy for Leber's congenital amaurosis: a phase 1 dose-escalation trial. Lancet. 2009 Nov 7;374(9701):1597-605. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61836-5. Epub 2009 Oct 23. Erratum In: Lancet. 2010 Jan 2;375(9708):30. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
- Maguire AM, Simonelli F, Pierce EA, Pugh EN Jr, Mingozzi F, Bennicelli J, Banfi S, Marshall KA, Testa F, Surace EM, Rossi S, Lyubarsky A, Arruda VR, Konkle B, Stone E, Sun J, Jacobs J, Dell'Osso L, Hertle R, Ma JX, Redmond TM, Zhu X, Hauck B, Zelenaia O, Shindler KS, Maguire MG, Wright JF, Volpe NJ, McDonnell JW, Auricchio A, High KA, Bennett J. Safety and efficacy of gene transfer for Leber's congenital amaurosis. N Engl J Med. 2008 May 22;358(21):2240-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0802315. Epub 2008 Apr 27. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central