Acquired and genetic influence of eye growth and visual function

Research group
Active research
Project owner
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology

Short description

This project pertains to a large proportion of children and young adults growing up in the world today. We have an increasing proportion of premature infants suffering from pre- and perinatal complications, resulting in growth restriction and congenital defects affecting brain and/or visual system development. Since brain growth is not complete, the visual system is not fully mature and still susceptible to damage at young age, early prevention, and treatment can have a positive effect later on. A successful completion of this project will not only lead to a better understanding of pathophysiology and prognosis, but also have an impact on prevention, diagnostics (an eye examination in itself is a diagnostic tool), and treatment (finding methods for the evaluation of potential therapeutic effect).

List of ongoing projects within the research group:

  1. Defining the Importance of Eye Morphology and Visual Function for Growth and Development of Cardiovascular Disease in Children Born Moderately-to-Late Preterm
  2. Consequences of alcohol exposure during pregnancy with a focus on eyes and visual function
  3. Mitochondrial diseases and its impact on eye and visual function
  4. Children and young adults with anophthalmia and microphthalmia treated with ocular prosthesis – Diagnosis, management and impact on quality of life
  5. Strabismus och amblyopia including vision screening
  6. Evaluation of cyclodeviation - strategies for investigation, management and Quality of Life (QoL) appraisal
  7. Visual function and eye morphology in children with surgically treated hydrocephalus
  8. Identification, investigation, treatment and follow-up of children and adolescents with cerebral visual impairment (CVI)
  9. Screening, treatment and follow-up of children and adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and JIA-associated uveitis
  10. Ophthalmological changes following hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO)
  11. DiabBase Ophthalmic IT-System – a Digitized Health Care System for Diabetic Retinopathy

Project 1: Defining the Importance of Eye Morphology and Visual Function for Growth, Metabolic Status and Development of Cardiovascular Disease in Children Born Moderate-to-Late Preterm

The goal of this project is to define neuronal function and morphology of the eye and visual system and relate these factors to growth, metabolic status and cardiovascular status in children born moderately-to-late preterm (MLP). Not only very preterm birth, but also MLP birth, has shown to carry considerable risks for long-term disability, including vascular dysfunction and hypertension, which has been of increase interest in the last few years. It is relatively easy to inspect and register even discrete morphological changes in the eye, detect function of the visual system, and calculate the relative oxygen saturation of retinal blood vessels by non-invasive methods. The fundus of the eye can be photographed, and objective measurements can be made of the retina, the optic disc, and the retinal vessels. Effects of extreme prematurity on ocular development are well known, however, very little is known about ophthalmological and visual findings in MLP children.

We have previously shown that almost 80% of children adopted from eastern Europe had significant ophthalmological findings which were correlated to growth restriction, premature birth, and neuropediatric status.1Early detection and treatment of pre- and perinatal injuries to the brain and visual system is of importance for the outcome. Furthermore, since the brain growth and the visual system are not fully developed at birth, and therefore responsive in younger ages, prevention and/or treatment may give positive effects even in later years. It will now be very important to understand the relationship between eye morphology and visual function to growth, metabolic status and development of cardiovascular disease in MLP children, who are the fastest growing subgroup of preterm infants today and account for more than 80% of all preterm births. 

Our Specific Aims are:

Specific Aim 1: To define the relationship between eye morphology, visual function and metabolic changes to growth and cardiovascular status in children born MLP, with or without growth restriction.

Specific Aim 2: To test the hypothesis that preeclampsia of the mother affects the development of the eye and visual system and cardiovascular status of the child.

Specific Aim 3: To study the relationship between growth factors and the development of the ocular and visual system.

Specific Aim 4: To study eye morphology and visual function in other groups of children and young adults with growth restriction; Silver Russell syndrome (SRS) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), in relation to cardiovascular, metabolic and neuropsychiatric status.

Group members

Marita Andersson Grönlund, Principal Investigator
Affiliated Professor, Chief Physician 

Emad Abu Ishkheidem, MD
Sara Ali, MS
Susann Andersson, MD, PhD
Eva Aring, CO, PhD
Martin Breimer, MD
Helena Buch Hesgaard  MD, PhD
Beatrice Casslén, MS
Sara Flodin, CO, PhD student
Hanna Garellick, MD
Emelie Gyllencreutz, MD, PhD student
Ylva Jugård, MD
Helle Kalm, MD, PhD
Eva Karlsson, MD, PhD student
Magnus Landgren MD, PhD
Valdemar Landgren, MD
Alexandra Lind, MS
Deala Mroué, MD
Marie Odersjö, anaplastologist
Maria Papadopoulou, MD
Lina Raffa, MD, PhD
Philip Riedel, MD
Anders Sjöström, Associate Professor, Senior Consultant
Leif Svensson, psychologist
Rezhna Taha, MD
Alexandra Topa, MD
Alexandra Wrede, MS