July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Ophthalmologic disorders and risk factors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Melinda Chang
    Ophthalmology, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Nandini Gandhi
    University of California, Davis, California, United States
  • Mary O'Hara
    University of California, Davis, California, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Melinda Chang, None; Nandini Gandhi, None; Mary O'Hara, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 3621. doi:
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      Melinda Chang, Nandini Gandhi, Mary O'Hara; Ophthalmologic disorders and risk factors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):3621.

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

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Purpose : Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasingly prevalent, estimated to occur in 1.68% of children in the United States, yet there are few data on ophthalmic co-morbidities in this population. The purpose of this study is to characterize risk factors and types of ophthalmologic disorders represented in children with ASD.

Methods : We conducted a retrospective chart review of all children (0-17 years old) with an ICD diagnosis of ASD seen at a single university over a 10-year period (2007-2017). In patients evaluated at the university eye clinic, demographic data, birth history, co-morbidities, and ophthalmologic findings were recorded. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for ophthalmologic disorders.

Results : 2,555 children with ASD were seen at the university during this time period, and 380 (15%) were evaluated in the ophthalmology clinic. Eye exam revealed an ophthalmic diagnosis in 71% of children, of which the most common were significant refractive error (42%), strabismus (32%), and amblyopia (22%). Optic neuropathy occurred in 14 (4%) children. Cerebral palsy (CP) was a significant risk factor for refractive error (OR 3.22, p=0.016), strabismus (OR 3.59, p=0.012), amblyopia (OR 3.49, p=0.0097), and optic neuropathy (OR 14.0, p=0.0009).

Conclusions : Ophthalmic disorders occurred in 71% of children with ASD, and the rates of significant refractive error, amblyopia, strabismus, and optic neuropathy exceeded those of the general pediatric population. ASD and CP may have additive risk for the aforementioned disorders. Prospective studies are necessary to further characterize the possible association between ASD and ophthalmic pathology. Pediatric ophthalmology referral should be considered in children with ASD.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.


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