Similarities and differences between behavioral and electrophysiological visual acuity thresholds in healthy infants during the second half of the first year of life (Lay summary)

Polevoy C, Muckle G, Séguin JR, Ouellet E, Saint-Amour D. Documenta Ophthalmologica 2017 Apr;134(2):99-110. doi: 10.1007/s10633-017-9576-z.

Visual acuity (how easy it is to see small letters or numbers on an eye chart) can be readily measured in children and adults.  However, it is difficult to assess visual acuity in infants because they cannot name the letters or numbers that they are seeing.  Therefore, two tools have been developed to test visual acuity in infants.  The first tool is the Teller Acuity Card test where the infant must demonstrate behaviorally that he/she sees black and white stripes of different sizes presented on cards (e.g., by turning their eyes toward the card).  The second tool is the Visual Evoked Potentials where the infant’s brain activity is recorded while black and white stripes of different sizes are presented on a computer screen.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare these two tools as a measure of an infant’s visual acuity.

As part of the MIREC-ID follow up study, 61 healthy infants (6 to 10 months old) were tested. Trained MIREC staff assessed each infant’s visual acuity using the Teller Acuity Cards and Visual Evoked Potentials tests.

The results of this study suggest that the two tools may be measuring different aspects of vision acuity in infants and therefore both should be used.