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Abstract

Purpose: To determine the prevalence and causes of visual impairment among children aged 7 years and below in a tertiary eye care centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Study design: Cross-sectional retrospective study.

Methods: Medical records of all children aged 7 years and below who attended the paediatric ophthalmology clinic in a tertiary eye care centre in 2020 were reviewed.

Results: In 2020, 2,460 children were seen in the clinic, of whom 549 (22.3%) presented with visual impairment. At the time of presentation, 73.2% of the visually impaired children were diagnosed with blindness; of these children, 62.8% were under 1 year old. The percentage of treatable causes of visual impairment was 38.4%, while 31.1% of them were preventable. The most common causes of visual impairment were cerebral visual impairment (24.2%), congenital cataract (16.6%), and retinoblastoma (6.2%).

Conclusion: More than half of the causes of childhood visual impairment were preventable or treatable. The majority of children were under 1 year old. Cerebral visual impairment was the main cause of visual impairment. This study highlights the importance of early screening and intervention programs to prevent childhood visual impairment.