Researchers already know children born pre-term are more likely to have ophthalmological and neurodevelopmental disorders than their full-term peers.1 Previous studies, however, hadn’t yet evaluated these outcomes in adults who were born pre-term.

Swedish researchers recently discovered that prematurely born adults are at a higher risk of having reduced visual function than adults born full-term.2

This population-based study included 59 pre-term and 44 full-term patients of similar ages. The team assessed best-corrected visual acuity at distance and at near, visual fields and contrast sensitivity.2

They found that participants born pre-term had significantly lower distance visual acuity (-0.08 vs. -0.14), near visual acuity (-0.08 vs. -0.13), mean deviation (-1.09 vs. -0.80) and contrast sensitivity (2.02 vs. 2.16) compared with participants born full-term. They note that the differences in distance visual acuity and contrast sensitivity were also evident after excluding patients with retinopathy associated with prematurity and neurological complications. They add that retinopathy in prematurely born adults was a risk factor for reduced near visual acuity and visual fields.2

1. Hellgren KM, Tornqvist K, Jakobsson PG, et al. Ophthalmologic outcome of extremely preterm infants at 6.5 years of age: extremely preterm infants in Sweden study (EXPRESS). JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134:555-62.

2. Pétursdóttir D, Holmström G, Larsson E. Visual function is reduced in young adults formerly born prematurely: a population-based study. Br J Ophthalmol. July 13, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].