Can you see me now?

Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) … basically it means that your eyes may work, but the optic nerve or brain, well, messes up (“visual impairment due to non-ocular causes”). We were told that the eyes form late in brain development, that many consider them an extension or even part of the brain, and when there is a neurological issue in utero, the eyes are usually involved. This is as opposed to hearing which is very “primitive” in development, that is it develops early in utero, and is less often impaired. Whatever.

So, all these “early intervention” people come to the house the first two or three years (more on them later). One is for vision therapy. I had already done my research, including contact with Perkins School for the Blind, and knew all too much.

So, “they” send over a new vision therapist, recently out of school. Young (maybe 22 or 23), well educated but fairly inexperienced, quiet, but very nice. She shows up, introduces herself, and is here for a first assessment, then she will come weekly.

She gets down on the floor with my daughter. I am sitting on the couch, watching. She takes a shiny toy thing out of her bag o’ tricks and tries to get my daughter to “track” it, i.e.: follow it with her eyes.

Nothing. Nada. She tries for a minute or two. Zippo. Then the therapist looks up at me, I can see in her eyes she just wants to cry (I knew the feeling well) and does not say anything.

You think she’s blind, don’t you?

She looks down and shakes her head in affirmation. Then looking at me again, I look her in her eyes and say …

Just continue. Trust me.

Hesitantly, she continues. All of the sudden my daughter starts avoiding eye contact with the toy. It is absolutely obvious she is looking away from wherever it is. Repeatedly.

Keep going.

And then she starts to track. Perfectly.

CVI … go back to your textbooks. It can really play with your head.

That’s pretty much CVI … vision can come and go, and do strange things.

At 16 her vision is pretty much steady, but not very good. Being neurological, glasses, etc. won’t help.

Pretty much reflective of life around here …


  1. By Katie


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