Interventions to improve functioning, participation, and quality of life in children with visual impairment: a systematic review

Ellen B. M. Elsman, Mo Al Baaj, Gerardus H. M. B. van Rens, Wencke Sijbrandi, Ellen G. C. van den Broek, Hilde P. A. van der Aa, Wouter Schakel, Martijn W. Heymans, Ralph de Vries, Mathijs P. J. Vervloed, Bert Steenbergen, Ruth M. A. van Nispen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Visual impairment in childhood often has life-long implications. To aim for the highest levels of functioning, participation, and quality of life and to ensure children's well-being, children should be entitled to the most effective rehabilitation programs. We review evidence for the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions for children with visual impairment to improve skills and behavior, thereby improving participation and quality of life as an ultimate goal. Of the 441 potentially relevant articles identified, 66 studies met our inclusion criteria (i.e., 28 randomized controlled trials, 18 nonrandomized controlled trials, and 20 before-after comparisons). The results suggest that sports camps, prescription and training in the use of low vision devices, and oral hygiene programs might be effective in improving functioning and elements of participation and quality of life in children with visual impairment. Other interventions showed mixed or negative results. The results should be interpreted with caution because of moderate to high risk of bias and suboptimal reporting. Heterogeneity of results and the use of over 50 different outcome measures prevented a meta-analysis. Future studies should focus on promising interventions for which effectiveness is still unclear (e.g., mobility, social skills), with adequately designed methodology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-557
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Cite this