Visual impairment is a term used to describe any kind of noncorrectable vision loss, whether it's complete blindness or partial vision loss. About 10 million people in the United States are visually impaired.
Common refractive errors such as near-sightedness and far-sightedness can be corrected with glasses or contacts. But when one or more parts of the eye or brain that are needed to process images become diseased or damaged, severe or total loss of vision can occur. In these cases, vision can't be fully restored with medical treatment, surgery, or corrective lenses.
Causes of visual impairments among kids and teens include:
Students with visual impairments may:
Signs of a possible vision problem in a student who hasn't been diagnosed with a visual impairment include:
Students with visual impairments should be encouraged to participate in all classroom activities, physical education, and extracurricular activities. Make sure your classroom is easy to move around in and free from obstacles.
Students with visual impairments may feel self-conscious about their condition. They also might be a target for bullying.
Visual impairments can be wide ranging, so each student's needs must be considered on an individual basis.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013
|Family Voices This website brings together families who have children with special health needs.|
|American Council of the Blind The website of the American Council of the Blind provides general information about the council, including recent issues of its monthly publication, The Braille Forum.|
|Parent Teacher Association (PTA) The PTA encourages parental involvement in public schools.|
|American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus This organization provides vision information and resources.|
|Prevent Blindness America This website offers information, resources, vision tests, volunteer opportunities, and more.|
|Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education This Web site provides information and lists programs dedicated to educating children with special needs.|
|U.S. Department of Education This government site offers advice, links, homework help, and information for parents, teachers, and students.|
|EyeCare America EyeCare America is a public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology that works to raise awareness about eye disease and care, provide free eye health educational materials, and facilitate access to medical eye care.|
|KidsHealth in the Classroom Free PreK-12 lesson plans, aligned to National Health Education Standards and based on expert-approved, age-appropriate articles.|
|The Special Needs Alliance The Special Needs Alliance helps people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who represent them. Find national and local services and support programs, get answers to questions about finances and disability benefits, or search the attorney database to find help with legal matters.|
|I Was Born Blind: Julia's Story What does it mean to be blind? Julia explains how she learns and plays even though she has vision problems.|
|Glasses and Contact Lenses Sometimes the different parts of the eye don't work together the way they should. When this happens, people wear glasses or contact lenses. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Your Child's Vision It's important for kids to have their eyes examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early.|
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|What It's Like to Be Color Blind You might think being color blind means you can't see any colors. But that's not true. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Can Vision Problems Affect Schoolwork? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Amblyopia Amblyopia interferes with the way the eye and the brain work together. The result is poor vision. Treatment may involve glasses, patches, eye drops, or surgery.|
|504 Education Plans If your child has special needs in the classroom, he or she may be eligible for a government-supported learning plan.|
|Seeing Your Way Through Strabismus Strabismus is when someone's eyes don't look straight ahead. It might look as if the person has one crossed eye. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Strabismus Strabismus causes eyes to wander or cross. Treatment may include glasses, patches, eye drops, or surgery.|
|Blindness Kids who can't see, or can't see well, learn to live without using their eyes. To learn more about visual impairment and what causes it, read our article for kids.|
|Vision Facts and Myths Old wives' tales abound about the eyes. From watching TV to eating carrots, here's the lowdown on some vision facts and fiction.|
|Visual Impairment When one or more parts of the eye or brain that are needed to process images become diseased or damaged, severe or total loss of vision can occur. Read all about visual impairment.|
|Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) Some kids may be eligible for individualized education programs in public schools, free of charge. Understanding how to access these services can help you be an effective advocate for your child.|
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