Research

Currently we have over 160 families involved in our research – some of which have been with us since the beginning!

April at the Eye Clinic
April at the Eye Clinic.

The Cardiff Down's syndrome cohort was first set up in 1992 by Bill Fraser and Maggie Woodhouse. We have children ranging from 3 months to 16 years old in the cohort, the majority of whom live in South and West Wales.

As you can imagine, over the years we have amassed a wealth of important information regarding visual development in children with Down's syndrome, which helps us understand how their vision can be optimised. It is important that we relay this information to others who work closely with people with Down's syndrome, for example parents and families, teachers and relevant professionals.

Our studies are explained in detail below.

Binocular vision and eye alignment

Looked in detail at the prevalence and types of squint (eye-turn) in children with Down's syndrome and the ways in which the two eyes work together.

Ocular Morphology

Measured and catalogued the differences in the appearance of the retina between people with Down's syndrome and those without, to allow practitioners to become familiar with the normal eye in Down’s syndrome.

Longitudinal study

Studying refractive errors (long- or short-sight), near focusing, quality of vision and eye problems in children and young people with Down's Syndrome.

Keratoconus study

Keratoconus, which is abnormal growth of the cornea into a cone shape, is much more common in young people with Down’s syndrome than in the general population. New treatments for the condition are now available and make early diagnosis of keratoconus a priority for the teenage age group. Accurate diagnosis can by challenging for practitioners unfamiliar with the eye in Down’s syndrome, because the normal DS cornea is different to the typical cornea. We are working on developing guidelines to early diagnosis, as well as towards a better understanding of why the condition develops in young people with Down’s syndrome.

Bifocal study

The bifocal study looked at the effects of wearing bifocal spectacles on near visual functions, such as accommodation (focusing). Results showed a significant benefit of bifocals even in young children, and led to important changes in clinical practice

Visual evoked potentials study

Children with Down’s syndrome appear to have poorer vision than typical children when tested with conventional letter and picture charts. This could possibly be because children with Down’s syndrome ‘under-perform’ when given difficult tasks, such as naming very small pictures. The study used an entirely objective technique to record vision and showed that poor scores are NOT performance related, but due to a real visual deficit. This discovery has led to changes in educational guidelines for children with Down’s syndrome, who require modifications to learning materials in school.