Introduction Recent meta-analytic findings show impaired visual perceptive performance for VLBW children. Little is known about relationships between visual sensory and visual perceptive processes in VLBW children.
Methods VLBW children (n=121) and age matched controls (n=50) were assessed using tests for oculomotor functioning (eye position, motility, convergence, nystagmus and torticollis), visual sensory functions (visual acuity, visual field, contrast sensitivity, color perception and stereovision) and visual perceptive abilities (form and motion coherence, Position in Space, Figure-Ground, Visual Closure Form Constancy and face perception).
Results Compared to term born controls, VLBW children showed more disorders of eye position (p = 0.01) and convergence (p = 0.03). For visual sensory functions, VLBW children had lower single symbol (p<0.001), but not different line symbol (p = 0.06) visual acuity and displayed reduced or absent stereovision more often (p = 0.04). Visual perceptive tasks showed reduced performance on both form and motion coherence tasks (p = 0.01) and on the subtests Position in Space (p = 0.001), Figure-Ground (p = 0.002), and Visual Closure (p = 0.03) but not on Form Constancy (p = 0.17). Compared to VLBW children without any oculomotor or visual sensory deficit, VLBW children with one or more of these deficits performed worse only one visual perceptive measure (Figure-Ground perception; p=.01).
Discussion We found reduced functioning in VLBW children for binocularity, perceptual grouping, visual-spatial judgment and figure-ground segmentation. Except for figure-ground segmentation, these visual perceptive deficits remain present in the absence of oculomotor and sensory deficits.