April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Longitudinal Study of Visual Cortical Functions in The Very Low Birth Weight Infants Without Retinal or Cerebral Pathology
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • William V. Good
    Smith-Kettlewell Eye Res Inst, San Francisco, California
  • Chuan Hou
    Smith-Kettlewell Eye Res Inst, San Francisco, California
  • Ashima Madan
    Healthy Start Pediatrics, Mountain View, California
  • Anthony M. Norcia
    Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  William V. Good, None; Chuan Hou, None; Ashima Madan, None; Anthony M. Norcia, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  RO1 EY00384-04 (WVG), Funds from the Children’s Eye Foundation of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (WVG),
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 5559. doi:
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      William V. Good, Chuan Hou, Ashima Madan, Anthony M. Norcia; Longitudinal Study of Visual Cortical Functions in The Very Low Birth Weight Infants Without Retinal or Cerebral Pathology. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):5559.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : Preterm infants are at high risk for visual and neural developmental problems. However, development of visual cortical function in preterm infants with no retinal or neurological morbidity has not been well defined. In order to determine whether premature birth itself alters visual cortical function in infancy, we assessed swept Visual Evoked Potential (sVEP) responses longitudinally at 5-7 months, 8-10 months and 11-13 months corrected age by comparing preterm infants to age-matched term infants.

Methods: : Fifty-eight Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) infants with no retinal, neurological morbidities or ROP-Plus disease and fifty term infants were enrolled. However, after excluded missing visits, there were seventeen VLBW infants and eighteen term infants who completed the study. Recruited VLBW infants were between 24 and 33 weeks of gestational age and weighed less than 1500 grams at birth. Spatial frequency, contrast and vernier sVEP responses were measured for all three visits. Acuity thresholds and suprathreshold response amplitudes were compared between groups.

Results: : Preterm infants with VLBW showed reduced amplitudes for grating, contrast and vernier measures, compared with term infants. These neurophysiological changes persisted to 11-13 months of corrected age.

Conclusions: : Preterm infants had measurable and significant changes in cortical responsiveness up to 11-13 months corrected age compared with age-matched controls. These results suggest that premature birth in the absence of identifiable retinal or neurological abnormalities has a detrimental effect on visual sensitivity during infancy, and that the changes are unchanged over 3 successive examinations. Longer term follow up studies should be done in premature infants to learn whether these effects endure.

Keywords: visual development: infancy and childhood • electrophysiology: clinical • visual cortex 

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