Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children 'More Common Than Previously Thought'

Pavankumar Kamat

February 05, 2021

One in every 30 primary school children may be affected with cerebral visual impairment (CVI), a new study published in  Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology  suggests.

Researchers at the University of Bristol Medical School analysed data from 2298 children aged five to 11 years across 12 schools, which was collected through teacher and parent questionnaires. Two hundred and forty-eight children were examined for brain-related visual issues consistent with CVI.

The prevalence of at least one CVI-related vision problem in the tested sample was 3.4 per cent. While no single problem predominated, they ranged from difficulties with eye movements, visual field, recognition of objects and seeing things in clutter. Visual acuity was compromised in 15 per cent of children with at least one CVI-related vision problem.

Furthermore, children receiving support for special educational needs were much more likely to have at least one CVI-related vision problem (four in every 10 children).

Dr Cathy Williams, the study’s lead author, said: "While this does not prove that these kind of vision problems are the cause of the difficulties with learning for any particular child, it does suggest that attending to children's visual needs, such as making things bigger or less cluttered, might be a good place to start."

The authors call for comprehensive vision assessment of all children who need additional support at school, in addition to the ongoing paediatrician and educational psychology evaluations.

Williams C, Pease A, Warnes P, Harrison S, Pilon F, Hyvarinen L, West S, Self J, Ferris J. Cerebral visual impairment-related vision problems in primary school children: a cross-sectional survey. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2021 Feb 03 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.14819. PMID: 33533021 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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