Visual Autism

Margaret Reynolds, Susan M. Culican

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and restricted, repetitive behaviors. It affects approximately 2.2% of children. Both genetic and environmental risk factors have been identified for ASD. Visual comorbidities are relatively common among children with ASD. Between 20 and 44% of ASD children have visually significant refractive error, on-third have strabismus, and one-fifth have amblyopia. In addition, ASD is 30 times more common in children with congenital blindness. It is unknown whether the association of ASD with visual morbidity is causal, comorbid, or contributing. Structural and functional abnormalities have been identified in MRIs of ASD children, and ASD children have been noted to have aberrant eye tracking. ASD children with visually significant refractive errors and poor spectacle compliance (present in 30% of ASD children) offer the opportunity for investigation into how improved visual acuity influences ASD behaviors. In this review, we focus on what is known of the visual system, refractive surgery, and ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number606
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • blindism
  • congenital blindness
  • visual autism


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