Vitamin A Deficiency In Children, CVI And Vision Loss
Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of preventable blindness in children worldwide. The second leading cause of blindness in terms of blind years is childhood blindness (Science Direct). The American Community Survey (ACS) reported in 2019 that there were about 547,083 children with vision complications. Approximately 1.4 million blind children account for approximately 70 million blind years. Blind years are the number of years children live with blindness versus 120 million blind years for adults with cataracts globally. During the month of September 2022, there is an increase in awareness regarding Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). CVI, Vision Loss, is the leading cause of vision impairment in children in the United States. It is the number one cause of pediatric visual impairment and blindness in the U.S. and developing countries. This affects as many as 3.4% of children and the majority of these children need extra help at school.
The CDC reports that approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition, and about 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
So what is CVI?
CVI is the leading cause of vision impairment in children in the United States. It is the number one cause of pediatric visual impairment and blindness in the U.S. and developing countries. CVI is when children have abnormal visual responses that aren’t caused by the eyes themselves. Pediatric low vision is irreversible vision loss or permanent visual impairment in a person aged 21 and younger. It cannot be improved with refractive correction, medical treatment, or surgical intervention. This affects as many as 3.4% of children and the majority of these children need extra help at school. Other important factors about CVI:
- It is a brain-based injury that affects visual processing.
- Children with CVI, Vision Loss, see what we see, however, the brain cannot interpret it.
- CVI causes children to see the world as if it were an instrument containing loose bits of colored material, such as glass or plastic.
- The colored material appears to be between two flat plates and two plane mirrors, and the position of the bits of material is reflected in an endless variety of patterns.
- Four to six images may appear, and the vision may look fractured, brightly colored, or scrambled.
Is There Currently A Cure For CVI?
This visual impairment is not a stand-alone condition.
- It is a visual symptom of migraines or conditions like a stroke or brain injury.
- Currently, there is no cure for CVI.
- Cortical Blindness can affect vision in total resulting in damage to both sides of the brain, usually both sides of the occipital (visual) cortex.
- However, vision rehabilitation can help people with CVI make the most of their vision.
- A small percentage of people with CVI problems get better over time on their own.
- CVI can be treated with NovaVision therapies, NeuroEyeCoach, and Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT).
CVI Is Not The Same As Ocular Impairment
CVI is not the same as an ocular impairment or blindness. People may associate blindness with ocular or eye impairment. However, it is neurological. It’s a brain-based visual loss where the damage involves the brain’s visual system. Many kids with CVI often have completely healthy eyes. Presently, Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is the most common cause of permanent visual impairment in children.
CVI Is Not Specific To Children Only
No, adults can also develop problems with their vision after a traumatic brain injury or stroke that damages the brain. Veterans may be at higher risk for visual problems as a result of combat injuries. Davies et al reported in 2013 that children with developmental problems and disabilities, who tend to have higher rates of CVI, also have increased risks of additional mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
CVI Symptoms May Include:
- Loss of secondary or central visual fields
- No control over eye movements
- Difficulty seeing at low contrast, and difficulties with visual recognition of objects, shapes, or people.
- Cerebral visual impairment in children manifests in various ways:
- Being unable to find things in a cluttered scene
- Bumping into things
- Inability to copy from the class whiteboard to their workbooks or difficulty controlling their eye position effectively to keep focused on a task (Philip and Dutton, 2014).
- In primary school-aged children, when not recognized and understood, these issues may be interpreted as lack of understanding, clumsiness, inattention, or social and communication difficulties, especially if the child has developmental problems (Swift et al., 2008).
Best Foods For Healthy Eyes (Science Direct)
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, corn, eggs, kale, nectarines, oranges, papayas, romaine lettuce, spinach, squash
- Nutrients: Lutein, zeaxanthin
- Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, walnuts
- Omega-3 fatty acids
What Can You Do?
- Make an appointment with us to have your child evaluated, be proactive and implement early intervention protocols.
- Pay attention to your child to make sure he/she is not experiencing the symptoms listed above.
- Consider vision loss rehabilitation.
- Learn all you can about your child’s disability and the options for treatment and education.
- Identify other parents of visually impaired children, a support team
- Make sure you take care of yourself, and your relationships with others and your family.
Contact us to schedule an eye exam for your child. We will discuss CVI and potential options if it is determined that your child has CVI.