PURPOSE: To determine whether the assessment of visual acuity ratios might improve the referral of children with (sub)normal visual acuity but at risk of cerebral visual impairment.
METHODS: In an exploratory study, we assessed visual acuity, crowding ratio and the ratios between grating acuity (Teller Acuity Cards-II) and optotype acuity (Cambridge Crowding Cards) in 60 typically developing school children (mean age 5y8m±1y1m), 21 children with ocular abnormalities only (5y7m±1y9m) and 26 children with (suspected) brain damage (5y7m±1y11m). Sensitivities and specificities were calculated for targets and controls from the perspective of different groups of diagnosticians: youth health care professionals (target: children with any visual abnormalities), ophthalmologists and low vision experts (target: children at risk of cerebral visual impairment).
RESULTS: For youth health care professionals subnormal visual acuity had the best sensitivity (76%) and specificity (70%). For ophthalmologists and low vision experts the crowding ratio had the best sensitivity (67%) and specificity (79 and 86%).
CONCLUSION: Youth health care professionals best continue applying subnormal visual acuity for screening, whereas ophthalmologists and low vision experts best add the crowding ratio to their routine diagnostics, to distinguish children at risk of visual impairment in the context of brain damage from children with ocular pathology only.