Microstructure changes of occipital white matter are responsible for visual problems in the 3–4-year-old very low birth weight children
AIM To assess the relationship between stereoscopic vision, visual perception, and microstructure of the corpus callosum (CC) and occipital white matter, 61 children born with a mean birth weight of 1024 g (SD 270 g) were subjected to detailed ophthalmologic evaluation, Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP-3), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at the age of 4. RESULTS Abnormal stereoscopic vision was detected in 16 children. Children with abnormal stereoscopic vision had smaller CC (CC length: 53 ± 6 mm versus 61 ± 4 mm; p < 0.01; estimated CC area: 314 ± 106 mm(2) versus 446 ± 79 mm(2); p < 0.01) and lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in CC (FA value of rostrum/genu: 0.7 ± 0.09 versus 0.79 ± 0.07; p < 0.01; FA value of CC body: 0.74 ± 0.13 versus 0.82 ± 0.09; p = 0.03). We found a significant correlation between DTVP-3 scores, CC size, and FA values in rostrum and body. This correlation was unrelated to retinopathy of prematurity. CONCLUSIONS Visual perceptive dysfunction in ex-preterm children without major sequelae of prematurity depends on more subtle changes in the brain microstructure, including CC. Role of interhemispheric connections in visual perception might be more complex than previously anticipated.