Effects of very low birth weight (VLBW) on visual development during the first year after term

Early Hum Dev. 1989 Dec;20(3-4):255-66. doi: 10.1016/0378-3782(89)90011-x.


Behavioural visual functions were assessed in 155 very low birth weight (VLBW) infants during the first 12 months after expected term. Visual development was examined (mainly cross-sectionally) at 6 weeks, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of corrected age by assessment of visual acuity, visual fields, optokinetic nystagmus and visual threat response. Many VLBW infants showed visual impairments (54.2%). No single visual function appeared to be specifically susceptible to impairments, deficits were often apparent across a range of functions. Visual impairments were observed at all test ages, and could already be assessed at 6 weeks of corrected age. The highest incidence of visual impairments was scored at 6 months corrected age. Beyond 6 months, less deficits were observed, suggesting in many infants a delayed rather than a permanently impaired visual development. In some infants deficits became evident at a later stage, after an apparently normal initial development. The results suggest that VLBW infants are at risk for impaired visual development.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / growth & development*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / physiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nystagmus, Physiologic / physiology*
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*