Overview » Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI)

What is CVI?

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a term used to describe visual impairment caused by brain injury or damage to the brain. CVI differs from ocular forms of impairment in that the interference in visual function exists not in the eye or optic nerve, but in the visual pathways of the brain. This can be confusing, especially when children present with a healthy eye, but they do not appear to see. They may even appear blind. Though we now know this to be untrue, their vision has been described as changing minute to minute or hour to hour.

Does My Child Have CVI?
CVI is generally seen in children who have neurological disorders or who have acquired a brain injury. It very often goes undiagnosed. Children and adults with CVI very often share a set of common visual and behavioral characteristics, a medical history that includes neurological problems, and a relatively normal eye exam. With strategic interventions, students can make marked progress.

WPSBC’s Approach
At Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, we have developed a capacity building model for children with CVI, which includes a long-range plan. Whether with our enrolled students or through services provided by our Outreach Program, we partner with parents, school districts and outside agencies to conduct the CVI Range Assessment (Roman, 2007) and determine the child's current level of visual functioning. From those scores, we develop instruction plans and adaptations for each child.

If you have questions about your child's vision or would like to participate in either our Outreach Program or our CVI Clinic, please contact Outreach Director Beth Ramella at ramellab@wpsbc.org or call 412-621-0100 ext. 379.