Visual Impairment

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a complex neurological condition. It is characterized by damage to the posterior visual pathways and/or the occipital lobes of the brain, leading to difficulties in visual processing. Individuals with CVI may experience a range of visual challenges, including reduced visual acuity, poor depth perception, and difficulty recognizing objects or faces.

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome, is a genetic disorder that can be associated with cortical visual impairment. Although CVI is not exclusive to Trisomy 18, individuals with this syndrome may have a higher likelihood of experiencing visual processing issues due to the chromosomal abnormalities present in their genetic makeup.

Understanding the impact of cortical visual impairment on individuals with Trisomy 18 is crucial for providing appropriate support and interventions. By recognizing the specific challenges they may face in processing visual information correctly, educators, therapists, and caregivers can develop tailored strategies to optimize their visual functioning and enhance their overall quality of life.

It’s important to note that each individual with Trisomy 18 may experience CVI differently. The severity and manifestation of visual impairments can vary significantly from person to person. Therefore, it is essential to conduct thorough assessments and collaborate with healthcare professionals specializing in CVI to develop personalized interventions that address the unique needs of each individual.

By raising awareness about cortical visual impairment and its association with Trisomy 18/Edwards Syndrome, we can foster a better understanding of these complex conditions and ensure that individuals affected by them receive the support they require for optimal visual functioning and overall well-being.

Causes of CVI:

  1. Asphyxia – oxygen deprivation
  2. Traumatic Head Injury
  3. Perinatal Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy – Too little of oxygen disrupts the blood flow causing reduced flow to the brain
  4. Brain Structure abnormalities
  5. CVA/Stroke
  6. Periventricular/Leukomalacia (PVL) damage and softening of the white matter
  7. Intraventricular Hemorrhage – bleeding into the ventricular system
  8. Infections inside the uterus during gestation
  9. Genetic Conditions

Levels of CVI (Description):

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a neurological condition that affects the visual processing abilities of individuals. It is commonly associated with conditions like Trisomy 18/Edwards Syndrome. Understanding the characteristics of CVI can help educators and therapists provide appropriate support and interventions for individuals with this condition.

Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy, a renowned expert in the field, has identified 10 key characteristics of CVI. These characteristics include preferred color, movement, latency, visual field, complexity (object, array, sensory, faces), light-gazing, distance viewing, visual reflexes, novelty, and visually guided reach. By assessing these factors on a range system of 0-10, certified examiners such as teachers of the visually impaired can evaluate the functional vision and visual interpretation abilities of individuals with CVI.

The range system provides a behavioral assessment that measures an individual’s ability to interpret and react to visual information. This assessment is crucial in understanding the extent of an individual’s functional vision and tailoring interventions accordingly.

By utilizing Dr. Roman-Lantzy’s 10 characteristics and the range system assessment, educators and therapists can gain valuable insights into an individual’s visual strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge can guide the development of personalized strategies to enhance their visual skills and improve overall functional outcomes.

It is important to note that each individual with CVI may exhibit different levels of impairment across these characteristics. Therefore, a thorough evaluation by certified professionals is essential for accurate diagnosis and intervention planning.

With a comprehensive understanding of CVI characteristics and their assessment through the range system, professionals can provide targeted support to individuals with this neurological condition. By employing evidence-based strategies based on these assessments, educators and therapists can empower individuals with CVI to navigate their visual world more effectively.

CVI Phases:

Phase I: Range (0-3) – Most Severe Impact on visual functioning

  • Building visual Behavior 

Phase 2: Range (3-7)  – Moderate impact of visual functioning

  • Integrating Vision with function

Phase 3: Range (7-10) – Best functional Vision

  • Resolution of CVI Characteristics
Emma Grace playing with the lite board since she has CVI


  1. CVI Resource Site –
  2. Christine Roman, PhD Resources –
  3. Perkins School for the Blind –
  4. CVI and Literacy –
  5. Pediatric CVI Society –
  6. Parent/Teacher Based Strategy –
  7. American Printing House –
  8. Internet Accessibility for Vision Impaired –
  9. Family Connect for Children with CVI –

Educational Resources:

  1. Learning Cards for CVI –
  2. Educational Resources for Parents/Teachers –


YOUTUBE videos (what is CVI?):

Youtube Videos: (CVI friendly videos for kids):

Books for kids:

  1. Animals for Children with CVI: Red on Black, Yellow on Black, White on Black – Erin Fulks –
  2. CVI-Friendly: Counting – Jennifer Burma –
  3. ABCs for Special Children: Yellow on Black, Red on Black – Erin Fulks –