To explore associations between developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and ophthalmic abnormalities in children aged 7 to 8 years.


Cross-sectional analysis of data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a UK birth cohort, was performed. DCD was defined according to DSM-IV criteria. Children with neurological difficulties or IQ less than 70 were excluded. Ophthalmic abnormalities including visual acuity, refraction, and binocular function were assessed using standard tests. Children who achieved less than the 5th centile in the ALSPAC coordination test and either failed the National Curriculum handwriting test, or achieved less than the 10th centile in the Activities of Daily Living scale (ADL) were defined as having severe DCD, while those who scored between the 5th and 15th centiles in the coordination test and either failed the handwriting test, or achieved less than the 15th centile in the ADL were defined as having moderate DCD.


Complete data were available for 7154 children. One hundred and twenty children (1.8%) met the criteria for severe DCD. A further 215 children had moderate DCD. Children with severe DCD were more likely to have the following: abnormal sensory fusion at near (odds ratio [95% confidence interval]) (1.98 [1.13–3.48]) and distance (2.59 [1.16–5.79]) and motor fusion (1.74 [1.07–2.84]); reduced stereoacuity (2.75 [1.78–4.23]); hypermetropia (2.29 [1.1–4.57]) and anisometropia (2.27 [1.13–4.60]). The majority of children found to have both DCD and a refractive error, had been previously prescribed glasses and wore them for the assessments (71%).


Children with severe DCD had abnormalities in binocular vision, refractive error, and ocular alignment. We recommend that children with DCD be assessed for ocular abnormalities as early intervention may improve long-term visual outcome. The impact of untreated ocular abnormalities such as refractive error on the accuracy of the diagnosis of DCD is difficult to ascertain and further work would be of benefit.