The significance of periventricular leukomalacia on ophthalmic outcome

Katherine McDonnell, Anna O'Connor


Aim: Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a type of cerebral white matter damage commonly arising within neonates born prematurely. This review aims to evaluate the literature relating to the long-term ophthalmic outcomes following PVL, focussing on the relationship between neuro-imaging and visual out- come.

Methods: A literature review was undertaken between October 2013 and January 2015. Articles were sourced using PubMed, ResearchGate and forward citation searches.

Results: PVL is shown to increase an individual’s chance of developing ocular defects, namely cerebral visual impairment, strabismus, visual field defects and visuoperceptual anomalies. The severity and extent of PVL is directly proportional to both the chance of developing an ocular defect, and the severity of said ocular defect; however, there is not a perfect correlation and ophthalmic outcome is specific to each individual. There have also been reports of strabismus being the presenting factor, leading to an investigation which revealed the presence of PVL that had been missed during the neonatal period. Neuro-imaging has been shown to have some predictive ability, varying depending on the area of the visual pathway examined, and the aspect of visual outcome predicted.

Conclusions: While predictive results gathered via neuro-imaging can offer insight into visual outcome, these must be consolidated through non-radiological clinical testing. Strabismus has been documented as a presenting factor in patients with PVL. Therefore the initial presentation of a patient with PVL, where the diagnosis has been missed during the neonatal period, may be through the orthoptic department. 


Cerebral visual impairment;Magnetic resonance imaging;Periventricular leukomalacia;Stra- bismus;Ultrasonography, Visuoperceptual anomaly

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Copyright (c) 2016 Katherine McDonnell, Anna O'Connor

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