Human eye development is coordinated through an extensive network of genetic signalling pathways. Disruption of key regulatory genes in the early stages of eye development can result in aborted eye formation, resulting in an absent eye (anophthalmia) or a small underdeveloped eye (microphthalmia) phenotype. Anophthalmia and microphthalmia (AM) are part of the same clinical spectrum and have high genetic heterogeneity, with >90 identified associated genes. By understanding the roles of these genes in development, including their temporal expression, the phenotypic variation associated with AM can be better understood, improving diagnosis and management. This review describes the genetic and structural basis of eye development, focusing on the function of key genes known to be associated with AM. In addition, we highlight some promising avenues of research involving multiomic approaches and disease modelling with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, which will aid in developing novel therapies.
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