Understanding vision loss
While there are some common causes, the experience of people who are blind or have low vision is unique. This page has some information to get you started, but it’s always best to talk to our team—we provide individual programs for your child and family to help achieve the best possible outcomes.
It's estimated that one out of every 2,500 children born in Australia will be diagnosed with severe vision loss.
But those figures aren't exact. That's why NextSense maintains the Australian Childhood Vision Impairment Register (ACVIR), the only national register of children with significant vision loss. We encourage children (from birth to 18 years) and their families to join the register, to help build an accurate picture of childhood vision loss across Australia, and to identify the supports children and their families need.
What causes vision loss in children?
Many things can cause vision loss in children, including
- eye conditions that have been inherited
- the influence of pre-term birth on the child’s eyes and their brain; and
- other conditions that children are born with, or develop as they grow.
Different parts of the visual system can be affected, such as:
- the eye
- the connections between the eye and the brain
- the parts of the brain involved in vision.
The importance of early intervention
A tailored approach to early intervention is important for children who are blind or have low vision to ensure:
- all areas of their development are on track and not delayed
- they have early access to literacy by introducing assistive technology, low vision aids and/or braille, as required
- they have early access to orientation and mobility support.
What is orientation and mobility?
Good question! Orientation and mobility (or O&M, as it's known) is about helping people who are blind or have low vision to move safely and independently through an environment.
When it comes to O&M, the earlier these skills are introduced, the more confidently and independently people with vision loss can navigate their world.
And depending on their age, personal preference, degree of vision, the types of activities they engage with and the environments they need to move in, there are a range of O&M supports, including:
- assistance from a sighted guide
- a cane, or a pushable mobility device for young children
- a guide dog
- assistive devices and other technologies, such as electronic travel aids that use ultrasound or infrared light to detect when a physical object is near.