Autism and Visual Impairment: a Review of the Literature

Maggie Butchart*, Joseph J. Long, Michael Brown, Anne McMillan, Janice Bain, Thanos Karatzias

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
515 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This review presents the evidence on the prevalence of visual impairments in children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and the similar behavioural traits associated with both visual impairment and autism. Method: A systematic literature review was conducted using online databases. Results: Seven studies explored the incidence of visual impairments in people with ASD and found a higher incidence of strabismus (squint) (8.3%) than in a comparable child population (1.5 to 5.3%). Eleven studies identified behavioural traits common to both autistic and visually impaired populations. The majority were small-scale screening studies using varied methodologies, constituting an emerging field of research. Conclusion: Further large-scale, multicentre studies are required to accurately identify prevalence rates of ophthalmic conditions in people with ASD. There is a small but evolving evidence base that establishes behavioural and linguistic traits common to both visual impairment and autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-131
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date05 Jan 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ASD
  • Autism
  • Sight loss
  • Visual impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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