• There is an increased incidence of a range of ocular disorders in people with Down syndrome including congenital cataract, squint, glaucoma, blepharitis, blocked nasolacrimal ducts, nystagmus and ketatoconus.
  • Significant refractive error is also more common at all ages and if uncorrected is an important cause of preventable secondary handicap. Over 50% of children with Down syndrome starting primary school need spectacles to correct a refractive error compared with 5-8% in the general population.
  • Early correction for hypermetropia (long sight) and the use of bifocals can be beneficial in many children, to help with accommodative errors.
  • The possibility of eye problems should therefore be considered at every medical review, starting with the neonatal examination for congenital cataract.
  • Guidelines recommend regular formal visual assessments, at least every 2 years, throughout life.
  • Screening in adulthood should continue for cataract and keratoconus.

DSMIG Guidance

Ophthalmic problems – basic medical surveillance essentials

DSMIG evidence-based guideline

Last updated 2012

Background notes to the basic medical essential guideline

Last updated 2012

Presentations at DSMIG Meetings

Materials from meetings are available for members only who need to log in to access them. For details on how to become a member click here.

Additional Resources

Down’s Syndrome Vision Research Unit- Cardiff University (web link)

Based on over 20 years of research into vision problems in people with Down syndrome, this site offers expert advice, information and useful web inks for parents, teachers and health professionals on eye conditions and vision testing.


Patient information sheet provided by the Oxford Eye Hospital.

Eye problems in Children

Down’s Syndrome Association Health Series leaflet

Last updated 2012

Vision in children with Down?s syndrome and Spectacles and Children with Down?s syndrome

2 articles written by Maggie Woodhouse at The Down?s Syndrome Vision Research Unit, Cardiff University for Down?s Syndrome Association (DSA) Journal 127 Spring/Summer 2013

?Fit it Right, See it Bright?

Campaign by DSA promoting correctly fitting glasses for people with Down?s syndrome and including a number of information sheets to help achieve better experiences with fitting and wearing glasses:

Book Chapter – Vision and eye disorders

Pat Charleton and Maggie Woodhouse


Down Syndrome – Current Perspectives
Edited by Richard Newton , Shiela Puri and Liz Marder 2015