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Ffion M. John, Nathan R. Bromham, J. Margaret Woodhouse, T. Rowan Candy; Spatial Vision Deficits in Infants and Children with Down Syndrome. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(5):1566-1572. doi: 10.1167/iovs.03-0951.
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purpose. Infants and children with Down syndrome show reduced visual acuity and contrast sensitivity when tested with conventional behavioral techniques. These results may reflect sensory deficits of optical or neural origin or a loss of performance in mechanisms responsible for generating the behavioral response. The purpose of this study was to compare objective acuity and contrast sensitivity measurements recorded with visual-evoked potentials (VEPs), with behavioral clinical test results in a group of children with Down syndrome and a group of control subjects. The goal was to determine whether children with Down syndrome still have a sensory deficit when tested using a procedure that is less cognitively demanding than conventional tests.
methods. The subject group comprised 58 children with Down syndrome and 44 control subjects, aged 3 months to 14.15 years. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were measured with steady state, swept VEPs and behavioral techniques. VEP acuity was obtained from 36 children with Down syndrome and 40 control subjects, and behavioral acuity from 54 children with Down syndrome and 35 control subjects. VEP contrast sensitivity was measured in 24 children with Down syndrome and 34 control subjects, and behavioral contrast sensitivity in 42 children with Down syndrome and 25 control subjects. Group differences in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were analyzed with an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), with age as a covariate.
results. Visual acuity thresholds were significantly lower in the group with Down syndrome than in the control group. This was true for both VEP (P < 0.01) and behavioral measures (P < 0.01). The Down syndrome group also had reduced contrast sensitivity when compared with the control subjects, for VEP contrast sensitivity (P < 0.01) and behavioral contrast sensitivity (P < 0.01). The group differences remained when children with ophthalmic anomalies were excluded from the analysis.
conclusions. The reduced visual acuity and contrast sensitivity in the Down syndrome group support the idea of an underlying sensory deficit in the visual system in Down syndrome.
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