Purpose: To gain an overview of the spectrum of diagnoses among Swedish visually impaired children.
Methods: An epidemiological study of all known visually impaired children was made by review of medical records.
Results and conclusion: In all we found 2373 children, 0-19 years of age, with an age-specific prevalence of 10.9/10,000. The two largest diagnostic groups included neuro-ophthalmological and retinal diseases. The most frequent disorders were cerebral visual impairment, non-hereditary optic atrophy, retinal dystrophy (when regarded as a general entity), congenital hypoplasia of the optic nerve and congenital cataract. Nystagmus secondary to brain disorder, albinism, congenital nystagmus, retinopathy of prematurity and high myopia were also found in a considerable number of patients. The leading diagnoses in children with WHO-defined childhood blindness were non-hereditary optic atrophy, cerebral visual impairment and retinopathy of prematurity. A large proportion of the children, especially in the groups with neuro-ophthalmological disorders and malformations of the posterior segment had additional impairments, emphasizing the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach when assessing multi-handicapped children.