Vision problems in Down syndrome adults do not hamper communication, daily living skills and socialisation
Background: Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition with a prevalence of 11.2–10000 life-births in Europe. The most important concern consists of various degrees of intellectual disability and sensory deficits. The overall prevalence of ophthalmologic abnormalities has been reported to be as high as 46–100 %. Impairment of vision potentially hampers the capacity of learning and communication and thus of social integration. The aim of our study is to assess prospectively the occurrence of vision problems in patients with DS with special emphasis on adaptive behaviour and cognition.
Methods: Assessments included Hirschberg’s corneal reflex method, eye alignment, cover test, Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (VABS) for adaptive behaviour and Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) for cognitive abilities.
Results: We included prospectively 49 individuals from 19–52 years. Ophthalmologic problems were observed in 81.6 % of our DS patients. The total number of visual disorders and symptoms was equally distributed with respect to ID-group and to levels of adaptive behaviour (p > 0.050). When comparing individuals matched for age, gender, cognitive skills and sociocultural background in a subset of individuals, vision problems did not decrease adaptive behaviour skills of our patients with visual disorders and daily living skills even fared better (p = 0.046).
Conclusions: Effective early correction and intervention on visual-motor deficits seem to be important, but nevertheless personal autonomy is not seriously detained.