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Oral Presentation X: "Early support for pre-school children with visual impairments – a population-based survey in the canton of Zurich"
Tuesday, 22/Nov/2022:
4:00pm - 4:15pm

Presenting Author: Michael von Rhein

Location: Auditorium Olivier

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Early support for pre-school children with visual impairments – a population-based survey in the canton of Zurich

Michael von Rhein1,2,3, Oskar Jenni1,2,3

1University Children`s Hospital Zurich, Child Development Center, Switzerland; 2University Children`s Hospital Zurich, Children`s Research Center, Switzerland; 3University of Zurich, Switzerland

BACKGROUND: In Switzerland, about 377`000 people live with visual impairments. Many suffer from low vision or blindness from birth, or early childhood on, and need specialized low-vision (LV) support. However, there are no data available in Switzerland. In the canton of Zurich, a central register collects data on all preschool children referred for LV.

METHODS: We analyzed data of all referrals between 2015-2017 with respect to the number of children affected, the average age of referral, developmental profiles, medical diagnoses, and measures granted.

RESULTS: Between 2015-2017, 171 preschool-aged children in Zurich were referred for LV (0.35% of the population in the respective age range). In average, referred children were 2.12 years old (SD 1.55), which is 6 months earlier than in referrals for other reasons. 40% of the children suffered from mild, 45% from moderate, and 15% from severe visual impairments, with no significant differences in the ages of referral between these groups. The children were granted an average of 85 hours of support for a 12-month period, but in average, only 53% of these hours were used.

DISCUSSION: This cross-sectional survey showed large differences in age of referral, which could not be explained by the severity of the impairments. A relevant diffrence between granted and served hours was observed, which could be due to several reasons (e.g., a lack of therapeutic capacity, poor appreciation by families, or parental overtrain). Our register is a valuable tool to assess detection, and access to care for patients in need of early interventions.

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