In my last post I wrote about attending a two-day workshop by Dr. Christine Roman- Lantzy, the author of Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention, and her latest book, Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principles.
During the workshop, Dr. Roman–Lantzy talked about diagnosing and measuring a child’s level of Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), and said that although CVI is a form of vision loss, it can’t be properly measured using the same tests optometrists and ophthalmologists use to diagnose ocular conditions. She told the workshop participants a child can have an acuity of 20/20 and still have CVI. It got my attention when she told us that because when I met her on the first break on day one of the workshop, I told her I was 20/200, which is what my ophthalmologist had been telling me for the past few years. While speaking with Dr. Roman- Lantzy during a break, I told her I found that point really interesting because the traditional ways were the only methods ever used to test me. No one has ever done a CVI assessment with me. She said that’s because it’s only done on children. Hearing that, but not feeling deterred by it, I went to find one of my teammates at CNIB who works with young children and is very well versed in doing CVI assessments. She knows I have CVI, and I told her I am eager to know how I would score on a CVI assessment. She said she’s a bit curious too, so we’ll make that happen someday soon.
Another reason I want to know where I am on the CVI Range stems from one of my first conversations with Dr. Roman-Lantzy when I told her I felt as though I’ve been able to move right to phase three on Some of the characteristics because of my visual memory, but after listening to her speak on the first day, I wasn’t so sure any more. I now believe that for some of the ten characteristics of CVI, particularly complexity, both of array and of faces, I might still be in phase two, meaning my score on the range might be lower than I first thought.
Latency and distance viewing are two more of the ten characteristics which I never thought I was affected by at all, but as I thought more about it, I came to the conclusion that I think I do experience latency in some areas of my life, and distance viewing also affects me more than I first thought. When I’m riding in a vehicle, I can see a lot of what is around me, but I can be slow to react to things that happen in my peripheral vision, which I believe is latency. Distance viewing is also a problem because the further something is from me, the more it blends into the background, which then brings complexity into play, and that’s a characteristic I know for sure I struggle with.
One of the last things I learned from the two-day workshop was that, according to Dr. Roman- Lantzy’s findings, people with strabismus also have a harder time overcoming the effects of CVI. Strabismus, which in my case means my left eye is off centre, is something I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but it didn’t seem to have that big of an affect on my life, or so I thought. In 2006, I had an ophthalmologist offer to correct my left eye, but that was just a few months after losing my sight, and I wasn’t prepared to do any more procedures that might harm my vision further. I have a prism in my glasses to redirect light to the centre of my vision, so I don’t feel the need to do anything more invasive. If my eye was better aligned would it help me overcome even more of my CVI challenges? Who knows? I’ve come this far with my eye being off centre, so I don’t feel the need to change it.
Learning about CVI and trying to figure out where I fit in the range has been a very interesting experience, and I feel like there is much more learning yet to be done.