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    Early onset retinal dystrophies: Clinical clues to diagnosis for pediatricians

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    Introduction: Inherited retinal dystrophies are major cause of severe progressive vision loss in children. Early recognition and diagnosis are essential for timely visual rehabilitation during the appropriate stages of the visual development, as well as for genetic diagnosis and possible gene therapy. The aim of this study is to characterize a pattern of the initial visual symptoms, which could help the pediatricians and the primary care providers to suspect an inherited retinal disorder in its early stage. Methods: We analyzed the initial clinical symptoms, based on parental report during the first visit to specialist, in 50 children diagnosed with retinal dystrophy confirmed by full-field electroretinography. The analysis included the age of symptoms onset and the type of visual symptoms, both in the total population and in the following diagnostic subgroups: rod-cone dystrophy (n.17), cone-rod dystrophy (n.12), achromatopsia (n.13), congenital stationary night blindness (n.6) and Leber's congenital amaurosis (n.2). Results: The majority of children (80%) had the onset of clinical symptoms before one year of age. The most frequent visual complaints reported by parents were nystagmus (76%), visual loss (28%) and photophobia (8%). Nystagmus was the first symptom reported by parents if the disease onset was before the age of six months, while the onset after the six months of age was more likely associated with the complain of vision loss. Conclusions: Low vision and nystagmus observed by parents, particularly in the first year of life, may represent a red flag, prompting an appropriate ophthalmological workup for inherited retinal dystrophy