Final versus referral diagnosis of childhood visual impairment in an Italian tertiary low vision rehabilitation centre

Evelyn Longhin, Sara Segalina, Elisabetta Pilotto, Enrica Convento, Edoardo Midena, Silvia Bini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To compare the final diagnosis of the causes of low vision in children attending a tertiary rehabilitation centre for visually impaired children versus referral diagnosis. Methods: Retrospective review of clinical charts of all children referred to the Robert Hollman Foundation, a tertiary centre for visually impaired children, between January 2010 and June 2011. The following clinical data were analysed: entry diagnosis made by the referral ophthalmologist and final diagnosis made at Robert Hollman Foundation based on a complete ophthalmic evaluation. Results: Ninety-two consecutive children (mean age = 2.37 ± 1.98 years, range = 0–9) were included. A referral diagnosis was retrieved in 76 cases (82.6%), including cerebral visual impairment (14.1%), retinopathy of prematurity (14.1%), hereditary retinal diseases (10.9%), nystagmus (8.7%) and other rarer diseases (34.8%). In the remaining 16 children (17.4%), a precise referral diagnosis was unavailable. Final clinical diagnosis made at Robert Hollman Foundation was normal visual function in 8.7%, cerebral visual impairment in 30.4%, retinopathy of prematurity in 10.9%, hereditary retinal disease in 9.8% and other in 40.2%. In 17 cases (18.5%), the diagnosis made at the Robert Hollman Foundation did not confirm the entry diagnosis. Among patients where measurement of visual acuity was possible (84), 66.7% were blind or seriously visual impaired, and the main causes were cerebral visual impairment (32.1%) and retinopathy of prematurity (16.1%). Conclusion: The most frequent diseases were cerebral visual impairment, retinopathy of prematurity and hereditary retinal diseases. Approximately one-third of referred children had not a correct diagnosis at baseline. The activity of an ophthalmic tertiary centre is essential to offer a precise diagnosis to visually impaired (sometimes with other deficits) children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Ophthalmology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 12 2019


  • cerebral visual impairment
  • childhood low vision
  • Childhood visual impairment
  • ophthalmic tertiary centre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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