Ophthalmological, cognitive, electrophysiological and MRI assessment of visual processing in preterm children without major neuromotor impairment

Dev Sci. 2010 Sep 1;13(5):692-705. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00925.x.


Many studies report chronic deficits in visual processing in children born preterm. We investigated whether functional abnormalities in visual processing exist in children born preterm but without major neuromotor impairment (i.e. cerebral palsy). Twelve such children (< 33 weeks gestation or birthweight < 1000 g) without major neuromotor impairment and 12 born full-term controls were assessed at 8-12 years of age by means of ophthalmological assessment (visual acuity, colour vision, stereopsis, stereoacuity, visual fields, ocular motility, motor fusion), cognitive tests of visual-motor, visual-perceptual and visual-spatial skills and pattern-reversal visual evoked potentials (PR-VEPs). All participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and neuromotor assessments. No significant differences were found between the groups on the ophthalmological, visual cognitive, neurological, neuromotor or MRI measures. The P100 component of the PR-VEP showed a significantly shorter latency in the preterm compared with the full-term participants. Whilst this P100 finding suggests that subtle abnormalities may exist at the neurophysiological level, we conclude that visual dysfunction is not systematically associated with preterm birth in the context of normal neurological status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Child
  • Color Vision / physiology
  • Depth Perception / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*