Cross-sectional study on childhood cerebral visual impairment in New Zealand

J AAPOS. 2014 Feb;18(1):71-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2013.09.014.


Purpose: To determine the prevalence, etiology, and avoidable causes of childhood cerebral visual impairment (CVI) in New Zealand.

Methods: The clinical and educational records of blind and low vision children enrolled in the Blind and Low Vision Education Network, New Zealand (BLENNZ), a national referral center, were retrospectively analyzed. The WHO Program for Prevention of Blindness (WHO/PBL) Eye Examination Record for Children with Blindness and Low Vision was used to record data from children ≤16 years of age diagnosed with CVI and visual acuity ≤6/18 enrolled with BLENNZ. Data analyzed included demographics, etiology, visual acuity, visual fields, educational setting, and rehabilitation plan.

Results: A total of 182 children (blind, 143; low vision, 39) were included. The calculated prevalence of childhood CVI in New Zealand was 0.02%. Of these, only 21% required low vision aids. Principle causes of CVI blindness were perinatal hypoxia/asphyxia (25%), nonaccidental injury (7%), and prematurity (7%). Approximately 50% of all cases of CVI blindness were potentially avoidable; of these, 52% were caused by perinatal hypoxia and 14% by nonaccidental injury.

Conclusions: The conservative calculated prevalence of CVI, responsible for 30% of all childhood blindness in New Zealand, was 0.02%. The most common cause of CVI blindness in New Zealand, perinatal asphyxia, is also an avoidable cause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blindness, Cortical / diagnosis
  • Blindness, Cortical / epidemiology*
  • Blindness, Cortical / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education of Visually Disabled
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensory Aids
  • Vision, Low / diagnosis
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data*