Infants with cerebral palsy (CP) frequently present cerebral visual impairment (CVI) often caused by damage to retrochiasmatic pathways. This is particularly true of subjects with damage to the periventricular white matter. Thirty-eight preterm infants with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) diagnosed by MRI were examined to correlate binocular visual acuity with neuroradiological findings. Binocular visual acuity was evaluated using Teller Acuity Cards and a complete ophthalmological examination was also performed. Three infants with ROP III were excluded from the sample. The age of observation ranged from 20 months to 5 and a half years (mean 42 months). The possible involvement of the optic radiations and/or of the calcarine cortex was detected by brain MRI. Twenty-three infants (66\%) presented visual impairment. Of these, 9 (26\%) were totally or nearly totally blind and 14 (40\%) were low vision children. The other 12 (34\%) had normal (2) or near normal (9) vision. MRI findings correlated with visual acuity; a relationship was detected between the degree of visual acuity and the reduction of the peritrigonal white matter, and also between the degree of visual acuity and the extent of calcarine atrophy. This report clearly establishes a relationship between visual impairment and specific MRI findings in children with PVL. Teller Acuity Cards and MRI are useful for detecting potential visual impairment and for improving both the clinical diagnosis of these disorders and the therapeutic approach to these subjects.
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