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> Achondroplasia
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Cortical Vision Impairment

Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) is a form of visual impairment that is caused by a brain problem rather than an eye problem.

CVI is also sometimes known as cortical blindness, although most people with CVI are not totally blind. Though the vision of a person with CVI may change, it rarely if ever becomes totally normal. It can be compared to looking through a piece of Swiss cheese. Some parts of the visual field are seen, while others are not. Vision tends to improve over time.

The major causes of CVI are as follows: asphyxia, hypoxia (a lack of sufficient oxygen in the body’s blood cells), or ischemia (not enough blood supply to the brain), all of which may occur during the birth process; developmental brain defects; head injury; hydrocephalus (when the cerebrospinal fluid does not circulate properly around the brain, and collects in the head, putting pressure on the brain); a stroke involving the occipital lobe; and infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis and encephalitis.

The child’s eye movements are most often normal, but the visual functioning will be variable. CVI is difficult to diagnose, but a combination of an MRI and an evaluation of how the child is functioning visually will provide the basis for a diagnosis. Children should be seen by both a pediatric neurologist and a pediatric ophthalmologist or pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist, which we have available in Edmonton at the Stollery Hospital. Further help can be offered through a referral to the CNIB.