Eva K. Larsson, M.D., of the Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden, and colleagues compared the visual acuity for distance and near vision of 10-year-old children born either prematurely or full term in Stockholm County, Sweden between 1988 and 1990. Of the 216 prematurely born children, 131 had no retinopathy of prematurity at birth. Of the remaining preterm children with mild to severe retinopathy of prematurity, 25 were treated with cryotherapy.
Prematurely born children had reduced distance and near visual acuities compared with full-term children, even when children who had retinopathy and neurological disorders were excluded, the researchers report. Children who had been treated with cryotherapy had the highest risk of reduced visual acuity. Two percent of the preterm children were visually impaired by the World Health Organization criteria and 5.3 percent had a visual acuity below 20/60 in either eye.
"Although we found an overall good visual outcome in the prematurely born cohort, the risk of reduced visual acuity was greater than in full-term children," the authors conclude. "Children who had been treated with cryotherapy had the highest risk, but prematurity per se was also associated with reduced visual acuity."