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An Uncommon Diagnosis and Successful Surgery for Jacob Farley

Jacob just prior to surgery at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital

In fall 2017, Crista Farley noticed what she thought was a bruise on the left eyelid of her three-year-old son, Jacob. The bump got bigger over time and took on a blue, marble-shaped appearance, so the family took Jacob to a pediatrician, who then referred him to UAB Callahan Eye Hospital.

At Callahan, Jacob was seen by Sarah Jacobs, MD, an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, who diagnosed him with pilomatrixoma. Pilomatrixoma is a benign tumor of the hair follicle that occurs most often on the head, neck, arms, or torso; formation on the eyelid is extremely rare. These tumors usually appear reddish or blue due to dilated blood vessels, and white nodules may be seen through the skin.

“Orbital pilomatrixoma is an uncommon, benign tumor that arises from the hair follicle cells,” Dr. Jacobs says. “If left untreated, the tumor will enlarge over time, and very rarely it can transform into a cancer called pilomatrix carcinoma. Research has shown that there is a greater than 95 percent chance of a permanent cure for pilomatrixoma with complete surgical removal, and this is the course of treatment we chose for Jacob.”

Left: Jacob in his Halloween costume before the surgery. The pilomatrixoma is noticeable on his eyelid. Right: Jacob enjoys opening Christmas presents after his successful surgery.



The surgery was successful, and the nodule was removed. Jacob was able to recover at home without further treatment, and his vision was not affected.

“My son received excellent care at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, from both the staff and Dr. Jacobs,” Crista says. “They were so kind and really cared about his recovery. I couldn’t have asked for a better surgeon.”