Objective: To determine the effects of modest low birth weight and prematurity on visual function of children predominantly aged 6 years.
Methods: Children with a birth weight of 1500 to 2499 g were considered exposed to a modest low birth weight (n = 82) and were compared with children with a birth weight of 2500 g or more (n = 1386). Exposure to modest prematurity, 32 to 36 weeks' gestation (n = 115), was similarly analyzed and compared with birth at term, 37 or more weeks' gestation (n = 1446). Logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution visual acuity was measured in both eyes. Cycloplegic autorefraction (cyclopentolate), cover testing, and dilated fundus examinations were performed.
Results: A modest low birth weight increased the risk of amblyopia (relative risk [RR], 5.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2-12.0), strabismus (RR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.5-9.1), and anisometropia (RR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.2-11.1), together with an increased risk of uncorrected visual acuity in the lowest quartile (RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.2). Modest prematurity increased the risk of amblyopia (RR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.9-10.6), strabismus (RR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.1-6.0), and uncorrected visual acuity in the lowest quartile (RR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.0).
Conclusion: Modest degrees of low birth weight and prematurity may be associated with increased ophthalmic morbidity at age 6 years.