Visual impairment in the hearing impaired students

Gogate, Parikshit; Rishikeshi, Nikhil; Mehata, Reshma; Ranade, Satish; Kharat, Jitesh; Deshpande, Madan
December 2009
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology;Dec2009, Vol. 57 Issue 6, p451
Academic Journal
Background: Ocular problems are more common in children with hearing problems than in normal children. Neglected visual impairment could aggravate educational and social disability. Aim: To detect and treat visual impairment, if any, in hearing-impaired children. Setting and Design: Observational, clinical case series of hearing-impaired children in schools providing special education. Materials and Methods: Hearing-impaired children in selected schools underwent detailed visual acuity testing, refraction, external ocular examination and fundoscopy. Ocular motility testing was also performed. Teachers were sensitized and trained to help in the assessment of visual acuity using Snellen's E charts. Refractive errors and squint were treated as per standard practice. Statistical Analysis: Excel soft ware was used for data entry and SSPS for analysis. Results: The study involved 901 hearing-impaired students between four and 21 years of age, from 14 special education schools. A quarter of them (216/901, 24%) had ocular problems. Refractive errors were the most common morbidity 167(18.5%), but only 10 children were using appropriate spectacle correction at presentation. Fifty children had visual acuity less than 20/80 at presentation; after providing refractive correction, this number reduced to three children, all of whom were provided low-vision aids. Other common conditions included strabismus in 12 (1.3%) children, and retinal pigmentary dystrophy in five (0.6%) children. Conclusion: Ocular problems are common in hearing-impaired children. Screening for ocular problems should be made mandatory in hearing-impaired children, as they use their visual sense to compensate for the poor auditory sense.


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