Purpose. Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is bilateral visual impairment caused by damage to the posterior visual pathway, the visual cortex, or both. Current literature reports great variability in the prognosis of CVI. The purpose of this study was to evaluate change in vision function in children with CVI over time using a quantitative assessment method.
Methods. The visual acuity and contrast sensitivity of children with CVI were retrospectively assessed using the sweep visual evoked potential (VEP). Thirty-nine children participated in the visual acuity assessment and 34 of the 39 children participated in the contrast threshold assessment. At the time of the first VEP, the children ranged in age from 1 to 16 years (mean: 5.0 years). The time between measures ranged from 0.6 to 13.7 years (mean: 6.5 years).
Results. Forty-nine percent of the children studied showed significant improvement of visual acuity. The average improvement was 0.43 log unit (mean change: 20/205 to 20/76) in those who improved. The initial visual acuity was worse in those who improved compared with those who did not improve (p < 0.001). Forty-seven percent of the children studied showed significant improvement of contrast threshold. In those who improved, the average amount of improvement was 0.57 log unit (10 to 2.6% Michelson). The initial contrast threshold was significantly worse in those who improved compared with those who did not improve (p = 0.001). Also, the change in contrast threshold was related to age of the child (p = 0.017).
Conclusions. Significant improvement in vision function can occur over time in children with CVI. In the present study, approximately 50% of the children improved and the remainder remained stable. No relation was found between etiology and improvement. Further investigation is warranted to better understand the prognosis for visual recovery in children with CVI.