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Prevalence and Impact of Cerebral Visual Impairment

Children with brain-related (cerebral) visual impairment have difficulty seeing the world around them.  For example, they may find it difficult to find things on a cluttered page, avoid bumping into people, or change eye position effectively to keep focused on a task.

The visual impairment underlying these problems can be hidden as the child may appear to have good eyesight. This can mean that the difficulties with vision are misinterpreted as clumsiness or inattention, or as social and communication difficulties. Unrecognised, it may mean that they might not get enough support or they might get the wrong kind of support. Related behaviours may be misunderstood and children may be set back academically. These issues could all contribute to the development of mental health problems like anxiety and low self-esteem.

It is not known how many children are affected by cerebral visual impairment (CVI). While it is recognised that some children are at increased risk of having CVI, especially children with cerebral palsy, there is not yet a good way to decide who needs to be assessed for CVI.

Cathy Williams at Bristol University is leading a programme of research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) into CVI. It aims to explore:

  • The prevalence of CVI within primary school aged children
  • How best to identify who needs to be tested for CVI
  • How CVI affects children’s everyday lives
  • How to present information about CVI to teachers and parents
  • How to measure effectiveness of interventions to support children with CVI

PenCRU is part of the team with the specific role to involve families from our Family Faculty as partners in the research. Parent carers of children with visual impairment who are members of our Family Faculty have already provided feedback on the funding application for this research and will continue to advise the research throughout the project.

See the main CVI project website for more details.

If you are interested in this topic and would like to get involved, please get in touch.