Discovering PHPV/PFV in our Newborn

Hi For Little Eyes readers!

I’m so happy to introduce myself to such a supportive and helpful group. I’m Kyla, and I run a crafting lifestyle blog at Homemade Hometown as well as write for a few other blogs, magazines, and publications. You can read more about me here if you’d like– I plan to stick around the For Little Eyes community for the long haul!

[photo image of author with husband and newborn son, Arthur]

You may have seen this post originally on Homemade Hometown, but I have teamed up with For Little Eyes to help spread awareness and advocate for other families faced with a similar story to ours. I’ll be sharing our journey with our youngest son, Arthur, and his condition of unilateral PHPV/PFV and microphthalmia.


[photo image of stock photo child looking off in the distance]


When Arthur was born, we noticed almost immediately that one of his eyes seemed a little swollen shut. He would open one eye and not the other. We asked the doctors about it while we were still in the hospital after his delivery. Our resident doctor assured us that it’s common for babies to have some swelling or similar symptoms, especially when they deliver “sunny-side-up”.

The next day during the rounds, we continued to voice our concern over the disproportion and favoritism opening one eye and not the other. The overseeing physician repeated the advice we received already, and to be honest, it’s easy to listen to what you want to hear.
Arthur passed all of his tests. I stayed in the room for each one. He aced his APGAR with a 10—crying before even being fully born. Chaos ensued at home, and we enjoyed our time together before making our way home.
At his follow-up clinic appointment, we voiced our concerns again—nothing was improving, and we were able to look closer at his eye and see different coloring and a jagged-shaped pupil. His eyes were checked, they felt his head, and gave him the all clear again. I gladly listened. Luckily, Alan wasn’t so easily swayed.
The photo we captured of Arthur’s eye before seeing the Ophthalmologist, when we were told things were normal

[photo image of newborn Arthur with one healthy eye with a blue iris and normal size on the right and one eye with a green and cloudy iris and smaller eye on the left]

At two weeks old, my husband was still sticking to his gut that something wasn’t normal with Arthur. I knew that he looked different, but I wanted to believe otherwise. I finally took to Dr. Google (which is SO unlike me to wait an entire two weeks… it usually takes me 5 seconds to web MD a problem and conclude impending death).
Google came up with some scary results:
  • Congenital Glaucoma
  • Horner’s Syndrome
  • Cataracts
  • Pete’s Anomoly
  • Anopthalmia/Microphthalmia
  • And more
After reading about how serious many of these conditions are, we called the Pediatric Ophthalmologist on our own and requested an appointment without a referral. They fit us in the next Monday, and immediately knew something was not right in plain sight. After sending stern warning letters to all of our doctors, our provider’s Ophthalmologist admitted that they have no tools or specialists able to work on babies this small, and we were sent on to a specialist at the University of Wisconsin.
We still didn’t have any answers when we came to the UW. We met our doctor and after a long, long day of examinations and deductions, we knew what we were dealing with:


Arthur had a Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PHPV/PFV)
Congenital Cataract and Microphthalmia in his left eye.


Persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous or persistent fetal vasculature is a rare anomaly of the eye where it doesn’t fully form in the womb. When an eye is formed in utero, a stalk connects the back of the eye to the pupil, and once the eye develops further, the stalk then regresses and the eye is left clear to allow light in for vision. With PHPV, that stalk sometimes doesn’t regress—and the eye remains cloudy. A PHPV cataract is the worst type of cataract for vision prognosis, and needs to be removed between 6 and 8 weeks of age for a chance for the brain to make the right connections to the eye in order to establish vision. Microphthalmia can pair with PHPV, but can also exist alone. That condition is the medical term for having a smaller eye. It can vary in severity and in how it affects vision. All together, these conditions lead to increased risk of glaucoma, poor vision prognosis, and a long journey of maintenance and related surgeries.

3 responses to “Discovering PHPV/PFV in our Newborn

  1. Pingback: Preparing for a Newborn’s Cataract Surgery | For Little Eyes·

  2. We just found out our 3 mnt old grand-son has PFV of both eyes. Needless to say his parents are devistated and the family is in sock and sad. None of us have been able to do anything except cry at the loss of this little family’s tragic new reality. I am trying to find support for my daughter and son in law. If anyone can hear my cry for help..pls contact me.
    Thank you for any support you may be able to offer.


  3. My daughter has the exact same diagnosis as Arthur. She is now 14, and is doing very well. The only time I have noticed her struggle with her eye is 3D movies (although I’ve been told new 3D glasses dont need both eyes to work to see 3D, and also recently when she wanted to apply eye make up.
    she has always seen the world in this way, and while she does wonder what it would be like to see with both eyes, she can do anything!
    I was very concerned when she was an infant, but truly, she is thriving!


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