Objective To improve diagnostic assessment in Moebius syndrome by (1) creating more selective diagnostic subgroups and (2) conducting genetic evaluation in a large patient cohort. Design Prospective, observational study. Participants Attendees of 3 consecutive Moebius syndrome conferences held in the United States, with a prior diagnosis of Moebius syndrome, were invited to participate. Methods Participants underwent standardized ophthalmologic examination for Moebius syndrome minimum diagnostic criteria (MDC) (congenital, nonprogressive facial palsy, and abduction deficit) and genetic testing for HOXA1, HOXB1, and TUBB3 mutations. Main Outcome Measures The number of patients meeting MDC and the number of patients with confirmed genetic mutation. Results A total of 112 participants from 107 families enrolled. Nineteen percent of participants (21/112) did not meet accepted MDC for Moebius syndrome because they had abduction deficits without facial palsy or facial palsy with full ocular motility. All 5 families with 2 affected individuals had at least 1 family member in this category, including 2 siblings with comitant strabismus who harbored a HOXB1 mutation. Four unrelated participants, also not meeting MDC, had large-angle exotropia, vertical gaze deficiency, and ptosis consistent with congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles type 3 (CFEOM3); 1 patient harbored a novel TUBB3 mutation, and 3 patients harbored previously reported de novo TUBB3 mutations. Three percent of participants (3/112) met MDC but also had restricted vertical gaze. The remaining 88 participants (79%) met MDC and had full vertical gaze. This group had relatively homogeneous findings, and none had a family history of Moebius syndrome. Two previously undescribed phenomena were observed in this category: (1) volitional Bell's phenomenon and (2) intorsion with fixation. Conclusions Although the genetic contributors to classic Moebius syndrome remain elusive, accuracy in clinical evaluation will properly subdivide patients to facilitate genetic testing as new candidate genes are identified. Failure to test ocular motility may lead to misdiagnosis of Moebius syndrome, especially in patients who have facial palsy with full ductions. Patients with exotropia, vertical gaze limitation, and ptosis do not have classic Moebius syndrome and may have TUBB3 mutations associated with CFEOM3. To optimize genetic analysis, we propose adding "full vertical motility" to the MDC for Moebius syndrome.
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