Article Text

Unilateral visual impairment and neurodevelopmental performance in preschool children
  1. S Hrisos1,
  2. M P Clarke2,
  3. T Kelly3,
  4. J Henderson2,
  5. C M Wright4
  1. 1Centre for Health Services Research, School of Population and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA, UK
  2. 2Children’s Eye Department, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK
  3. 3Regional Neurosciences Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6BE, UK
  4. 4PEACH Unit, Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, G3 8SJ, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Susan Hrisos Centre for Health Services Research, 21 Claremont Place, University of Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA, UK; susan.hrisos{at}


Background: Unilateral visual impairment (UVI) as a result of amblyopia or refractive error is common in childhood, but its functional significance remains largely unexplored.

Aim: To investigate the influence of visual acuity and stereoacuity on the performance of preschool children on tasks requiring visuomotor skills and visuospatial ability.

Methods: Children with normal (6/6) visual acuity (VA) in both eyes and children with UVI ranging from 6/9 to 6/60, with no strabismus and normal vision in the fellow eye, were assessed on a neurodevelopmental test battery of visually guided tasks.

Results: 50 children (mean age (SD): 52.4 (5.7) months; median (range) VA: 6/9 (6/6 to 6/60); median (range) stereoacuity: 70 seconds arc (40–absent)) completed the test battery. UVI and stereoacuity correlated moderately (Pearson’s r = 0.537, p<0.001) but seven of 28 children with impaired VA had normal stereoacuity (<70 seconds arc) while five of 22 with normal VA had abnormal stereoacuity. Stereoacuity correlated with performance on a task requiring fine hand-eye coordination and a task measuring visuomotor integration. UVI did not correlate with performance on any test battery items.

Conclusions: UVI itself does not appear to relate to visuomotor actions, except when associated with reduced stereoacuity. Stereoacuity appears to have an influential role in fine visuomotor actions and spatial representation in preschool children.

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  • Grant support: UK National Health Service Research and Development, Northern and Yorkshire region.

  • Competing interests: None.

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