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Fabry Disease: A Review of Ophthalmic and Systemic Manifestations

Sivley, Melanie D.*

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e31827ec7eb

ABSTRACT: Fabry disease (FD) is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder caused by accumulation of Gb-3 (globotriaosylceramide) in cellular lysosomes of tissues throughout the body. With advancing age, lysosomal Gb-3 accumulates in blood vessel walls, nerve cells, smooth muscle, and vital organs. Premature death commonly results from renal failure, heart attack, and stroke when the diagnosis is delayed or overlooked. One of the earliest and most distinctive physical features of FD is a whorl-like keratopathy. This finding is easily identifiable during a routine eye examination with a slit lamp, making eye care practitioners uniquely postured to identify patients and families with this incurable genetic disorder. Much of the pain, suffering, and adverse impact of FD can be avoided if an alert eye care expert sees the patient at an early age, identifies the condition, and makes the appropriate referral. The importance of obtaining a thorough medical history, ancestral health history, and review of systems to correlate ocular and systemic manifestations is emphasized. This report reviews the multisystem involvement of FD and describes the clinical characteristics and expected chronological appearance of ophthalmic and systemic manifestations. The discoveries of late-onset variants, increased prevalence, and modified inheritance pattern of FD are discussed. The profound therapeutic effects of recombinant enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) on multiple organ systems are detailed and demonstrated in a Fabry proband. Improved quality and quantity of life after initiation of ERT underscore the importance of early recognition and correlation of FD symptoms and clinical signs. Treatment strategies and the effectiveness of new adjunctive chaperone therapy are addressed.


School of Optometry, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

Melanie Sivley School of Optometry University of Alabama at Birmingham 1716 University Blvd HPB 523 Birmingham Alabama 35294 e-mail:

© 2013 American Academy of Optometry