The development of the visual system in pre-term infants as assessed by electrophysiological techniques
In an endeavour to provide further insight into the maturation of the human visual system, the contiguous development of the pattern reversal VEP, flash VEP and flash ERG was studied in a group of neurologically normal pre-term infants, born between 28 and 35 weeks gestation. Maturational changes were observed in all the evoked electrophysiological responses recorded, these were mainly characterised by an increase in the complexity of the waveform and a shortening in the latency of the response. Initially the ERG was seen to consist of a broad b-wave only, with the a-wave emerging at an average age of 40 weeks PMA. The a-wave showed only a slight reduction in latency and a modest increase in amplitude as the infant grows older, whereas the changes seen in the ERG b-wave were much more dramatic. Pattern reversal VEPs were successfully recorded for the first time during the pre-term period. Flash VEPs were also recorded for comparison. The neonatal pattern reversal VEP consistently showed a major positive component (P1) of long latency. As the infant grew older, the latency of the P1 component decreased and was found to be negatively correlated with PMA at recording. The appearance of the N1 and N2 components became more frequent as the infant matured. The majority of infants were found to be myopic at birth and refractive error was correlated with PMA, with emmetropisation occurring at about 45 weeks PMA. The pattern reversal VEP in response to 2o checks was apparently unaffected by refractive error.