Long-term follow-up of visual functions in prematurely born children--a prospective population-based study up to 10 years of age.
Introduction Prematurely born children have an increased risk of ophthalmologic problems. There is still no consensus on how they should be followed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate predictive factors for problems in premature children at ten years of age and to discuss follow-up recommendations. Materials and methods One hundred ninety-nine children with a birth weight of 1500 g or less were screened for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in the neonatal period and thereafter ophthalmologically examined at 6 months, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and 10 years of age. “Visual dysfunction” at ten years of age was defined as visual acuity ≥0.1 logMAR and/or strabismus and/or subnormal contrast sensitivity. Multiple regression analyses were used to evaluate risk factors at an early age, which could predict problems at ten years of age. Results Twenty-five percent of the cohort had visual dysfunction at ten years of age. Neurological complications, cryotreated ROP, anisometropia, and astigmatism were risk factors. The sensitivity was 75.5%, and the specificity 80.7% for the detection of visual dysfunction at ten years of age when all children with neurological complications, cryotreated ROP, strabismus, anisometropia ≥1 diopters (D) at 2.5 years, and astigmatism ≥2 D at 2.5 years were included in further follow-up. Conclusions Repeated ophthalmologic follow-up of prematurely born children should be performed in those with treated ROP and/or neurological conditions. For a third group without such problems, at least one follow-up is recommended. Such an examination also provides a good opportunity to identify neurological problems that warrant further ophthalmologic follow-up.