Visual function in full-term infants with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy.
Mercuri E., Atkinson J., Braddick O., Anker S., Cowan F., Rutherford M., Pennock J., Dubowitz L.
Thirty-one full term infants with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) were studied with a battery of tests designed to evaluate visual function in infancy and with serial MRI. Their age ranged between 5 and 31 months. The aim of the study was to evaluate whether the degree of HIE or the site and size of lesions on MRI could predict visual outcome. Twenty of the 31 infants studied showed abnormal results on at least one of the visual tests used. While visual function was generally normal in grade I HIE and severely impaired in grade III, visual outcome was variable in grade II. MRI findings were better predictors of visual impairment than the degree of HIE. Normal scans tended to be associated with normal visual function, irrespective of the severity of HIE. All but one of the infants with diffuse hemispheric involvement also showed multiple visual abnormalities. The concomitant involvement of basal ganglia was always associated with more severe visual outcome. These results suggest that infants with generalised lesions secondary to global insults are at high risk of severe visual impairment even in presence of normal acuity and require early assessment of various aspects of visual function.