Glow of the Month: Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV)

Posted on 2018-12-11

Glow of the Month“The Glow” can be a sign of nearly 20 different eye conditions and diseases — many of which can ultimately cause permanent partial or full vision loss. “The Glow” is a white or golden reflex that sometimes looks like a cat-eye reflex. It’s scientific name is “Leukocoria”. Read more about detecting “the Glow” in this article.

Persistent Fetal Vasculature (PFV) is one of the rare conditions that can be identified through “the Glow.” Other than “the Glow,” PFV often causes the affected eye to be slightly smaller than the “normal” eye. It can cause other symptoms like crossed eyes (strabismus), lazy eye (ambylopia), and uncontrollable eye movement (nystagmus).

PFV is what it’s name suggests — a congenital disorder in which the vascular structures of the eye present during development (e.g. while in the womb) fail to regress like they should. When this doesn’t happen, doctors typically try to surgically intervene and reattach the retina to the eye. While vision cannot always be restored, the eye can grow and function normally after surgery.

Because this condition can also cause secondary glaucoma, patients are often closely monitored if this condition develops.

Children diagnosed with PFV can still live happy, healthy lives, like Sadie.

When Sadie was about four months old, her dad noticed that her right eye had a tendency to turn inward. Combined with other symptoms like a milky eye, her parents decided to take her to the pediatrician.

The pediatrician performed a red-eye reflex exam which should abnormalities — alarmed, he referred Sadie’s family to the University of Tennessee Hamilton Eye Institute. There they discovered that Sadie’s retina was slowly detaching and she would need surgery to try and correct it. Sadly, her retina eventually full detached and inoperable. She has no vision in her right eye.

Despite this, Sadie has continued to grow and thrive and wears spunky pink glasses to protect her “good” eye. She is just one example of many children heroically dealing with vision issues.

If you or a family member has been affected by PFV, we’d love to feature your story to help guide other searching parents and families. Share your story by emailing To learn more about PFV, visit the American Society of Retina Specialists which was the source for most of this article.