Visual impairment in children with congenital Zika syndrome

J AAPOS. 2017 Aug;21(4):295-299.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2017.04.003. Epub 2017 Apr 24.


Purpose: To describe the visual impairment associated with ocular and neurological abnormalities in a cohort of children with congenital Zika syndrome (CZS).

Methods: This cross-sectional study included infants with microcephaly born in Pernambuco, Brazil, from May to December 2015. Immunoglobulin M antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the Zika virus on the cerebrospinal fluid samples was positive for all infants. Clinical evaluation consisted of comprehensive ophthalmologic examination including visual acuity, visual function assessment, visual developmental milestone, neurologic examination, and neuroimaging.

Results: A total of 32 infants (18 males [56%]) were included. Mean age at examination was 5.7 ± 0.9 months (range, 4-7 months). Visual function and visual developmental milestone could not be tested in 1 child (3%). Visual impairment was detected in 32 infants (100%). Retinal and/or optic nerve findings were observed in 14 patients (44%). There was no statistical difference between the patients with ocular findings and those without (P = 0.180). All patients (100%) demonstrated neurological and neuroimaging abnormalities; 3 (9%) presented with late-onset of microcephaly.

Conclusions: Children with CZS demonstrated visual impairment regardless of retina and/or optic nerve abnormalities. This finding suggests that cortical/cerebral visual impairment may be the most common cause of blindness identified in children with CZS.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / virology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Developmental Disabilities / virology
  • Eye Abnormalities / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Microcephaly / virology
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Strabismus / congenital
  • Strabismus / physiopathology
  • Strabismus / virology
  • Vision Disorders / congenital
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Vision Disorders / virology*
  • Vision Tests
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Zika Virus Infection / congenital*
  • Zika Virus Infection / physiopathology