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Asma A. A. Zahidi, Lee McIlreavy, Jonathan T. Erichsen, J. Margaret Woodhouse; Visual and Refractive Status of Children With Down's Syndrome and Nystagmus. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(2):28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.2.28.
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Children with Down's syndrome (DS) are known to have poorer visual acuity than neurotypical children. One report has shown that children with DS and nystagmus also have poor acuity when compared to typical children with nystagmus. What has not been established is the extent of any acuity deficit due to nystagmus and whether nystagmus affects refractive error within a population with DS.
Clinical records from the Cardiff University Down's Syndrome Vision Research Unit were examined retrospectively. Binocular visual acuity and refraction data were available for 50 children who had DS and nystagmus and 176 children who had DS but no nystagmus. Data were compared between the two groups and with published data for neurotypical children with nystagmus.
The study confirms the deficit in acuity in DS, compared to neurotypical children, of approximately 0.2 logMAR and shows a deficit attributable to nystagmus of a further 0.2 logMAR beyond the first year of life. Children with both DS and nystagmus clearly have a significant additional impairment. Children with DS have a wide range of refractive errors, but nystagmus increases the likelihood of myopia. Prevalence and axis direction of astigmatism, on the other hand, appear unaffected by nystagmus.
Nystagmus confers an additional visual impairment on children with DS and must be recognized as such by families and educators. Children with both DS and nystagmus clearly need targeted support.
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