Visual field and grating acuity development in low-risk preterm infants during the first 2 1/2 years after term

Behav Brain Res. 1992 Jul 31;49(1):115-22. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(05)80201-3.


The effect of early visual experience on visual field size and grating acuity development was studied longitudinally in 36 appropriate for gestational age (AGA) and 26 small for gestational age (SGA) low-risk preterm infants. These were selected out of 194 very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (birthweight less than 1500 g) born in 1985 and 1986. Criteria for inclusion as low-risk were the absence of neurological, respiratory, circulatory and alimentary problems in the neonatal period; no retinopathy of prematurity and no evidence of abnormality on the neonatal cranial ultrasound scans. Binocular field sizes were assessed using kinetic arc perimetry. Binocular grating acuity was tested by means of the prototype version of the acuity card procedure. Results were compared with norms obtained in control fullterms in earlier studies. Infants were tested at 6 weeks, 6, 6, 9 and 12 months of age from the expected term date. Twenty-two of these infants were retested at 2 1/2 years of corrected age. Visual field size and visual acuity estimates of (both AGA and SGA) low-risk, VLBW preterms and control fullterms overlapped at all test ages, except for a slight but significantly faster development of the upper and the lower visual field at 6 weeks corrected age in the preterm group. These results indicate that for clinical purposes visual experience before the expected term date has not only no measurable effect on the normal development of behavioural acuity, but also no accelerating effect on the development of peripheral vision.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Male
  • Vision, Binocular
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*