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Claudia Yahalom, Rani Patal, Karen Hendler, Ibrahim Saadeh, Anat Blumenfeld; Causes of visual impairment and blindness in children
at a hospital based low-vision center in Israel. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):4047.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To assess the epidemiologic characteristics of children with severe visual impairment and blindness followed through our hospital based low-vision center in Israel. Our center includes a multidisciplinary team composed by optometrists, ophthalmologists, social worker and genetic counselor. The team works through a comprehensive approach including diagnosis, rehabilitation, prevention and treatment.
A retrospective review of the medical records of visually impaired children aged 0-18 seen through our clinic from 2010 till 2017. The following data was collected: ocular diagnosis, visual acuity, presence of strabismus and/or abnormal head posture (AHP), blind certificate, sex, and associated deficiencies.
A total of 1230 patients were included, 58% male and 42% female. The mean age was 9.6 years. Associated non-ophthalmic disorders were present in 23% of patients. The most prevalent disorders causing severe visual impairment were albinism (30.8%), retinal dystrophies in 20.5%, cortical visual impairment (CVI) in 11% and optic atrophy (11%). Inherited eye diseases accounted for 51.3 % of all diagnoses.Legal blindness was present in 30.4% of the studied children. CVI was the most common cause of blindness with 27.8%, closely followed by retinal dystrophies 26.7%.Ocular pathology that accounted for the poorest mean visual acuity included retinopathy of prematurity (6/90), Leber’s congenital amaurosis (6/90) and achromatopsia (6/60).
The leading causes of childhood severe visual impairment and blindness, in our patient cohort were genetic eye diseases (mainly retinal dystrophies and albinism) with 36.6% of confirmed inherited ocular pathologies among legally blind children. CVI also accounted for one of the commonest causes of childhood blindness in our patients; it's rate is in rise during the last years among industrialized countries around the world.Our findings suggest that in Israel the incidence of inherited ocular diseases is even higher than the reported by other developed countries. Efforts for preventing childhood blindness should include effective implementation of specific screening programs, preconception and pre-natal genetic counseling and a comprehensive specialists approach.
This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.
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