Anna Goldenberg

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

How do Occupational Therapists work with children with cortical visual impairment?

CVI stands for Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment. CVI is a brain-based visual impairment caused by damage to the visual pathways of the brain or visual processing areas of the brain. The eye structure itself is usually intact. CVI is the leading cause of blindness in children. Children with CVI may vary in severity of impairment, how much they see, or how they interpret visual information.

When working with children with CVI, it is important to work with a therapist who understands the underlying components of vision, identify specific visual challenges, and select effective intervention. Although there is no cure for CVI, occupational therapists use a multisensory approach, specific feedback, and various tools and techniques to teach a child to recognize and interpret the things they see correctly. Most importantly, to be able to perform at their highest level of independence.

What do Occupational Therapy specialists look at when assessing children with CVI?

  • Eye Alignment
  • Visual Motor and Teaming: Tracking, Shift, Gaze, Convergence/Divergence, and Saccades. 
  • Visual Fields or visuospatial neglect
  • Visual Attention
  • Facial Recognition
  • Visual Processing Speed or Response Interval
  • Hand Eye Coordination and Visual Attention to Hands
  • Visual Guidance of Lower Extremity
  • Sensory Processing: over-reliance of other senses for guidance
  • Visual distractibility: inability to focus on other senses while looking
  • Interpretation of Motion
  • Depth Perception
  • Figure Ground
  • Representative Forms, understanding an illustrated representation of a real object
  • Form Constancy, understanding the form is the same after being rotated
  • Color Perception
  • Impact of Light
  • Visual Memory
  • Visual Learning and Exploration
  • Visual Closure
  • Visual Sequential Memory
  • Visual Spatial Relationships
  • Visual Discrimination

That looks like a long list! The human brain is very complicated, and it is very closely connected to our visual system. To learn more about how your child can benefit from occupational therapy for vision, please visit

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