By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
Visual impairment or blindness can be classified into the following categories:
- Partially sighted: Even when wearing regular corrective lenses, partially sighted children cannot read standard newsprint, or see expressions on a person's face.
- Low vision: This generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not necessarily limited to distance vision. Those suffering from low vision are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance, even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. They use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in lighting or the size of print, and, sometimes, Braille. Children have significant vision loss that can not be corrected medically or surgically.
- Legally blind: This indicates that a child has less than 20/200 vision in the better eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its widest point)
- Totally blind: These children cannot see at all and must learn via Braille or other non-visual media.
The effect of visual problems on a child's development depends on the gravity, type of loss, age at which the condition appears, and overall functioning level of the child. Many children who have multiple disabilities may also have visual impairments resulting in motor, cognitive, and/or social developmental delays.
Children with visual impairments should be assessed early to benefit from early intervention programs, when applicable. Technology in the form of computers and low-vision optical and video aids enable many partially sighted, low vision and blind children to participate in regular class activities. Large print materials, books on tape, and Braille books are available.
If you feel your child might have vision problems, look out for the following symptoms:
- Eyes shake or wander erratically
- Eyes are not able to follow parent's face
- Pupils of the eyes are either extremely large or too small
- Pupils of the eyes are not black and they appear to have a milky layer on them
- Eyes do not appear to be evenly lined up; they cross or turn outward Young children don't have any verbal way to show their frustration.
Physical Behavioral symptoms:
- Rubs eyes frequently
- Unable to focus with central vision
- Cannot concentrate on details without turning or tilting head
- Covers or closes an eye when looking at something
- Avoids meticulous work or becomes tired after such work
- Complains of not being able to see at night
- Eyes appear tired
- Squints eyes at all times
- Sits very close to the television or reads a book by putting it too close to the eyes
- Has difficulty walking and running; appears clumsy and un-coordinated.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.