Refractive errors in children with autism in a developing country
Background: In a resource.limited country visual problems of mentally challenged individuals are often neglected.
Aim: The present study aims to study refractive errors in children diagnosed with autism in a developing country.
Materials and Methods: Ophthalmic examination was carried out on children diagnosed with autism attending a school for the mentally challenged in Enugu, Nigeria between December 2009 and May 2010. Visual acuity was assessed using Lea symbols. Anterior and posterior segments were examined. Cycloplegic refraction was performed. Data
was entered on the protocol prepared for the study and analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 17 (Chicago IL, USA).
Results: A total of 21 children with autism were enrolled in the school; 18 of whom were examined giving coverage of 85.7%. The age range was 5.15 years, with a mean of 10.28 years (standard deviation } 3.20). There were 13 boys and 5 girls. One child had bilateral temporal pallor of the disc and one had bilateral maculopathy with diffuse chorioretinal atrophy. Refraction revealed 4 children (22.2%) had astigmatism and 2 children (11.1%) had hypermetropia.
Conclusion: Significant refractive error mainly astigmatism was noted in the children with autism. Identifying refractive errors in these children early and providing appropriate corrective lenses may help optimize their visual functioning and impact their activities of daily life in a positive way.
Key words: Autism, developing country, refractive error