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Established in Britain in the 19th century, the sight impairment register has been the sole means of routinely monitoring the frequency and causes of visual impairment in children to plan services and prioritise research.1 Although not a prerequisite, certification and consequent registration is often the catalyst for statutory assessment of special educational needs. It is also often the portal for accessing social services.2 Certification remains voluntary in the UK, by contrast with similar registers elsewhere. However, considerable effort has recently been directed to addressing previous concerns about incomplete reporting of information and underascertainment of eligible individuals.1 2 We have previously reported incidence and causes of severe visual impairment (SVI) or blindness (BL) and associated mortality3 in a nationally representative group of children with SVI/BL in the UK. We now report on the BL certification status of these children 1 year after diagnosis.
Active surveillance was undertaken, simultaneously but independently, through the British Ophthalmological4 and British Paediatric5 Surveillance Units, whose reporting bases comprise all consultant ophthalmologists and paediatricians, respectively, in the UK. Every month for 1 year (2000), clinicians reported all children aged <16 years who were newly diagnosed as having SVI/BL due to any disorder. Children were eligible if they had a corrected distance visual acuity of worse than LogMAR 1.0 (Snellen 6/60 or equivalent) in the better eye, that is, SVI/BL using the WHO international taxonomy.6 Children were also considered eligible if their acuity could not be measured formally but they had clinical features …
For the British Childhood Visual Impairment Interest Group (see Appendix)
Funding The study was supported by grants from the British Council for Prevention of Blindness, Children Nationwide and the National Eye Research Centre. This work was undertaken at the Great Ormond Street Hospital/UCL Institute of Child Health that received a proportion of its funding from the Department of Health's National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centres funding scheme. The Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics also benefits from the funding support from the Medical Research Council in its capacity as the MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health. JSR holds a joint appointment with Moorfields Eye Hospital/Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, that also received a proportion of its funding from the Department of Health's National Institute of Health Research Biomedical Research Centres funding scheme. PMC is supported by the Ulverscroft Foundation.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institute of Child Health/Great Ormond Street Hospital local research ethics committee, and the data were handled in accordance with extant guidance on data protection.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.