University of Edinburgh

Disorders of vision in children: a guide for teachers and carers

Richard Bowman, Ruth Bowman & Gordon Dutton
First published by the RNIB in 2001
ISBN: 1858782139


This book describes the many different types of visual impairment and how they affect children's vision in different circumstances. It suggests ways of adapting educational strategies, resources and the learning environment to enable children with impaired vision to reach their full educational potential.

The first chapter explains how each part of the eye works and how different parts of the brain are responsible for particular aspects of what we see. The second chapter explains the various ways of assessing and measuring what a child can see. Chapter 3 deals with individual conditions and diseases that lead to visual impairment and considers educational implications for each. The final chapter looks in more detail at specific educational strategies for children with visual impairment and is followed by a comprehensive glossary of terms.

There are many causes of poor sight, each with its own peculiarities, which impair vision in different ways. For example, conditions that let too much light into the eye result in a significant reduction of vision in bright sunlight. Poorly developed optic nerves can cause vision which is a bit like looking through a colander. Brain damage can result in loss of half the vision to one side and in some children can seriously impair their ability to 'see' and understand complex pictorial material.

Assessment of functional vision needs to be carried out on a regular formal basis. In addition a day to day intuitive assessment of what the child is seeing and not seeing is a pre-requisite for planning an ongoing optimal educational strategy.

Armed with an understanding of the visual impairment, the central task for teachers is to devise teaching and learning strategies which circumvent any barriers to accessing knowledge and information. The aim is to ensure that children are not educationally disadvantaged on account of poor vision.

For ease of reading, we have alternated the use of he and she when referring to a child.