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Cortical Visual Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Neurological Vision Loss

During the last decade, vision loss caused by damage to the brain rather than by conditions or diseases of the eye has been the focus of increasing attention. As extremely premature infants survive in increasing numbers due to medical advances, often after sustaining hemorrhage or other injury to the brain, and wounded soldiers who have survived grievous injury fighting foreign wars have returned to this country, the incidence of visual impairment tied to neurological causes has risen in the United States.

CVI, TBI, and Neurological Vision Loss

Cortical visual impairment (CVI), and cerebral visual impairment (CVI), are terms often used to describe visual impairment that occurs because of injury or damage to the brain, as are neurological vision loss, brain-damage-related visual impairment, and vision loss due to traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Although vision or sight, as a sense, is primarily associated with the eyes, in reality, vision is the product of a complex system of which the eyes are only one part. The processing of visual information—the receipt of visual stimuli through the eyes, its interpretation by various brain centers, and its translation into visual images—has been estimated to involve as much as 40 percent of the brain. When this process is disrupted, the visual systems of the brain do not consistently interpret or understand what the eyes see, and visual impairment is the result.

Vision loss due to neurological damage to the brain affects both children and adults, and the complexities involved have been the subject of much discussion and debate throughout the community of professionals who provide vision-related services. Consensus has not been reached on the definition, assessment, and services needed to address vision loss of this kind, and much research may be needed to determine effective educational, rehabilitative, and medical practices in this area.

Read More About CVI

Who Receives Intervention for CVI?
This excerpt, compiled by Amanda Hall Lueck, provides information for educators on interventions for CVI.

Statement on Cortical Visual Impairment
This statement was written by an international advisory group to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), and is intended to provide guidance and clarity on a range of issues related to cortical visual impairment (CVI). Learn more about APH's efforts related to CVI at www.aph.org/cvi.

Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute 2008 Workshop Presentations on Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment and Traumatic Brain Injury
In 2008, a preconference seminar on CVI was held prior to the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute. The files include a PowerPoint presentation given by Dr. Harriet Zeiner (also available in Word format), a handout provided by Dr. August Colenbrander (available in PDF and Word), and two handouts from Dr. Mary Morse.

Publications on CVI

Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention
On the basis of more than 30 years' experience in working with hundreds of children of all ages with CVI, Christine Roman-Lantzy has developed a set of unique assessment tools and systematic, targeted principles whose use has helped children learn to use their vision more effectively. This one-of-a-kind resource provides readers with both a conceptual framework with which to understand working with CVI and concrete strategies to apply directly in their work.

Proceedings of the Summit on Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment
Edited by Elizabeth Morgan Dennison and Amanda Lueck, these proceedings record a historic attempt to reach consensus by a group of distinguished experts representing diverse viewpoints. Presentations by educational and medical professionals as well as by parents are included, as are the day's illuminating discussions among the presenters and guest participants.

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