The changing visual profile of children attending a regional specialist school for the visually impaired in Northern Ireland.

Julie McClelland, Kathryn Saunders, Nan Hill, Anne Magee, Myrtle Shannon, A Jonathan Jackson

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AIM: To investigate the changing profile of children attending a special school for visually impaired children over a 30-year period. METHODS: Between 1975 and 2004, 266 children were identified as having been students in the introductory years to secondary education at Jordanstown School. School records and records from the Regional Paediatric Low Vision Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast were examined to obtain data regarding age, primary ophthalmic diagnosis, visual acuity and any additional impairment. RESULTS: There was no statistically significant change in mean visual acuity of the children entering the secondary school over this period (p > 0.1). Albinism was the most common single condition (20.3%). Notable also was the reduction in incidence of visual impairment following congenital glaucoma and cataract and the corresponding increase in cortical visual impairment (CVI) during this period. CONCLUSION: During the last 30 years medical/surgical treatment has reduced the impact of treatable conditions (e.g. cataract) on visual impairment to the extent that their prevalence within this school has decreased. Consequently, children with non-treatable conditions (e.g. albinism) constitute a larger proportion of the school population. An increase in the proportion of children with CVI and learning disability in the school was noted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-60
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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