Helpful Information on Sight Loss
The degree of sight loss varies depending on eye condition. Most people who have lifelong eye condition are registered as Sight Impaired (SI) or Severely Sight Impaired (SSI).
Vision is likely to vary during the day and is likely to be affected by emotional, lack of confidence and physical factors such as stress, tiredness, unfamiliar surroundings to mention a few. Maintaining eye contact may be difficult.
Most people registered SI will be text readers. They will find large text with extra line spacing between the lines easier to read. Some find a visual aid like a magnifier useful.
People with a visual impairment may be slow readers, this is usually because they need extra time to scan the text. This should not be taken as sign of poor reading ability. Extra time may be needed when taking exams or tests.
Computers and other technology can be very useful to people with VI. They can adjust position, brightness, tilt, character size, can experiment with colour/contrast and technology like screen readers.
If a person suffers from Nystagmus, (involuntary eye movement), they may tilt their head to find the ‘null point’ where eye movement is reduced, and vision improved, they may also move/nod their head to compensate this movement. These actions should not normally be discouraged, but discussed. You will get to know your child’s optimum ‘null point’ and can advise others.
Depth perception can be reduced, this will make them slower on stairs and may make them appear clumsier than most. Balance may also be affected, usually due to poor depth perception, they may struggle on uneven surfaces or climbing a slide ladder for example.
Getting about can also be affected, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Crowded places, like supermarkets, may well produce tantrums and meltdowns. This is often because they are struggling to process all the visual information associated with the sounds associated with these places (sensory overload). Mobility and independent skills training programmes can help.
Work with your child at different times of the day to assess what lighting works best for them, task lighting can help with this, which can be sourced or discussed with professionals.
It can help to think of your child’s ‘viewing circle’ this is the area in which they see objects, floor space etc. If you imagine a hoop and think ‘What can my child, see inside this hoop?’ the hoop may be bigger or smaller than you think.