Background: Causes of visual impairment among children vary worldwide. While there is a scarcity of such data, this study aims to describe the profile of a large cohort of visually ...
Background: Causes of visual impairment among children vary worldwide. While there is a scarcity of such data, this study aims to describe the profile of a large cohort of visually impaired children. In addition, it will provide evidence to advocate the importance of the provision of low vision services to children and improve referrals for such services.
Methods: A retrospective study reviewed the profile of visually impaired children who attended a multidisciplinary vision rehabilitation service in the period of 2011-2021. Recorded data included demographics, clinical attributes (Binocular best-corrected distance visual acuity BCVA, near visual acuity, contrast threshold, causes of visual impairment, the presence of concurrent disability or disorder, whether the child was underweight or premature at birth), and the prescribed low vision aids. Data were analyzed using SPSS 20.0.
Results: Demographic and clinical records of 443 children (54% boys and 46% girls; median age 6 years) were analyzed. The median best corrected binocular distance visual acuity and contrast threshold were significantly improved from 0.86LogMAR to 0.62LogMAR and from 25% to 10%, respectively. The main source of referral to the association was ophthalmologists (35.5%) followed by schools/kindergartens (33%), whereas the least frequent source of referral was pediatricians (1.6%). The major causes of visual impairment were retinopathy of prematurity and cortical visual impairment.
Conclusion: visual functions were improved with the appropriate low vision aids, which explains the necessity for early referral of children to low vision services. Awareness training for pediatricians is important regarding the need for early detection and timely referral of visually impaired children. There is also a need for an awareness campaign about the causes and risk factors of retinopathy of prematurity.