In September, the field of ophthalmology recognizes Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI), a type of impairment caused by decreased visual response due to a neurological problem or damage to areas of the brain that control ocular function and processing of visual information (occipital lobe – visual cortex). The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) states that CVI is the most frequent cause of pediatric visual impairment in the U.S. and developed countries worldwide. Also known as Cortical Visual Impairment, CVI characteristically is seen in infants or youth who have experienced prematurity, decreased blood supply, brain malformation, hydrocephalus, head trauma and other neurologic conditions. Infants with CVI show variable degrees of impairment, from mildly decreased visual behavior to roving eye movements with complete absence of response to visual stimulation.
UNC Ophthalmology joins peers in the field in supporting increased awareness of CVI and having children showing signs of this condition to be examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist. Early diagnosis and intervention can stimulate development of new neural connections as the brain matures, maximizing early-stage visual growth and prediction of future visual function.