Temporal changes in incidence, prevalence and causes of childhood visual impairment - Learnings from 45 years with the National Danish Registry of Children with Visual Impairment

Line Kessel*, Hanne Jensen, Ann-Cathrine Larsen, Thomas Rosenberg, Kamilla Rothe Nissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Abstract

PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to describe the temporal changes in causes and prevalence of childhood visual impairment in Denmark based on the National Danish Registry of Children with Visual Impairment (NDRCVI).

METHODS: Annual reports on the NDRCVI since its establishment in 1979 were reviewed and data on the number of registered children and the causes for registration with a visual impairment were evaluated.

RESULTS: The average annual incidence of childhood visual impairment in Denmark is 2.8 per 1000 live-born children and the prevalence of childhood visual impairment is 1.6 per 1000 children <18 years. Today, fewer children are severely visually impaired (visual acuity ≤6/60) at the time of registration (31.6% since 2010 vs. 51.1% in the 1980s). Cerebral visual impairment and optic nerve atrophy have remained common causes of childhood visual impairment whereas sequelae to retinopathy of prematurity have been almost eliminated as a cause. Systemic comorbidities are more common now in children with visual impairment (seen in 63.9% in the last decades vs. 44.6%in the 1980-ties).

CONCLUSION: Whereas the prevalence of visual impairment has remained relatively stable over the years, the severity of visual impairment has improved, suggesting that more children will be able to live an active life supported by aids compensating vision loss. However, more children have systemic comorbidities in combination with their visual impairment suggesting that children with visual impairment face a life not only limited by the obstacles of poor vision. This calls for multidisciplinary management and support of affected children and families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Ophthalmologica (Online)
ISSN1755-3768
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • blindness
  • childhood
  • pediatric ophthalmology
  • vision impairment

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