Oct 3, 2023

FBC-funded researcher identifying risk factors for vision loss in children

Septo-optic dysplasia (SOD) and optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) are leading causes of poor vision in children in Canada. These conditions are caused by underdevelopment of the optic nerve which transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. We don’t fully understand why SOD or ONH occur, and there is currently no treatment for vision loss caused by these conditions.

With funding from Fighting Blindness Canada, Dr. Michael Salman (University of Manitoba) is trying to understand what the risk factors for SOD and ONH are. He is using population-level data to identify any characteristics that may increase the risk of a child developing either of these conditions.

This research has recently been published in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. The study identified a number of risk factors, some which can be changed (modifiable) and some which cannot (unmodifiable). The main modifiable risk factor was having a mother who smoked during pregnancy.

In a continuation of this project, Dr. Salman, who is a pediatric neurologist and neuro-ophthalmologist, will be exploring if a child with SOD or ONH has poorer development, health or social outcomes.

Dr. Salman hopes this information will provide a scientific basis for future prevention and treatment strategies to decrease the impact of SOD and ONH. As he describes, “Funding from Fighting Blindness Canada will give me the opportunity to advance knowledge on septo-optic dysplasia and optic nerve hypoplasia, which cause life-long visual impairment that starts in early life.”

To learn more about other Fighting Blindness Canada funded research visit

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