Research Output

Autism and Visual Impairment: a Review of the Literature

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.

A systematic literature review was conducted using online databases.

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.

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.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    05 January 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Springer Nature

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    BF Psychology

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    616.8 Nervous & mental disorders

  • Funders:

    Scottish Government


Butchart, M., Long, J. J., Brown, M., McMillan, A., Bain, J., & Karatzias, T. (2017). Autism and Visual Impairment: a Review of the Literature. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 4(2), (118-131). doi:10.1007/s40489-016-0101-1. ISSN 2195-7177



© The Author(s) 2017
Open Access
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


Visual impairment, Sight loss, Autism, ASD,

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