The diagnosis of CVI may occur around the time of the identification of the brain condition associated with CVI and other disabilities.  Or it may occur after a significant delay.  Unfortunately, the diagnosis of CVI may be missed by diagnosticians altogether. What may contribute to this difficulty?  The following barriers may exist:

  1. An eye exam that is normal or nearly normal, signaling the false impression that “vision is fine”.
  2. The possibility that more urgent medical issues require attention and the child’s lack of visual response seems somehow, less urgent
  3. The failure of providers recognizing the visual and behavioral characteristics of CVI
  4. The possibility that a different developmental condition/s will be diagnosed or misdiagnosed, masking the diagnosis and impact of CVI
  5. A diagnostician describing CVI as delayed visual maturation

Sometimes the suggestion of potential CVI comes from a non-medical source.  PTs, OTs, teachers of the visually impaired, early intervention specialists, and O&M providers may recognize the traits that are associated with CVI.  They may ask a parent to mention the possibility of CVI to an ophthalmologist, neurologist, or pediatrician.  Their prompt may in turn prompt the doctor to have a second look or think more deeply about the child’s use of functional vision. 

It is critical that anyone who is familiar with CVI advocate for the diagnosis.  A diagnosis of CVI will expediate access to proper services and will help identify the child as having a visual impairment.  This seemingly small action can place a child with CVI on the path to appropriate services. 

Three Diagnostic Criteria

Although the diagnosis of CVI is determined by a medical doctor, it is critical that all parents and providers be aware of the essential criteria used to diagnose CVI.  These elements include:

  1. An eye exam that does not explain the child’s functional use of vision.
  2. A history of a neurological condition associated with CVI
  3. The presence of the visual and behavioral characteristics

Lynn-link to my book chapter here???