Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the visual habilitation programme in improving the visual functions of visually impaired children under 3 years old.
Methods: Case records of children with visual impairment (VI) who had at least 1 follow-up visit were reviewed. Children's visual functions were scored between 0 and 15 based on mainly fixation and following skills. Differences in patients' visual function score (VFS) between the time of the presentation and the last follow-up visit were recorded.
Results: One hundred thirty children with VI (63 male and 67 female) were identified. The mean age at the presentation was 13.94 ± 9.23 months, and the mean follow-up was 12.79 ± 9.4 months. Forty of the patients had ocular, 70 of them had cerebral, and 20 of them had combined VI. Correlations were found between the age of the patients at the presentation and the initial VFS; and gestational age and the initial VFS (p ˂ 0.001, r = 0.332; p ˂ 0.05, r = 0.262, respectively). Vision improvement was noted in ocular, cerebral and combined VI groups. No significant difference among the groups was found (p = 0.430). There was a significant difference between the change in the VFSs of those who attended the special education and rehabilitation centre regularly for 2 h a week and had regular visual stimulation for 8-10 sessions every day at home and those who did not go to the centre and did not receive any visual stimulation by their parents at home (p ˂ 0.001).
Conclusions: The visual functions of visually impaired children can be improved by habilitation, which includes visual stimulation programmes.
Keywords: children; habilitation; visual impairment; visual stimulation.
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.