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Cerebral visual impairment (CVI) in children is, to our knowledge, a very common but until now very often neglected outcome of, among other things, a) a stressful pregnancy, b) preterm birth and c) stressful term birth with pre- and perinatal injuries. The entire visual system includes both the eyes and the brain, and damage can affect one or both of these organs. The visual brain-focused aim is that children gain precise visual access to their surroundings, linking visual information with the appropriate language and motor skills to both enable them to understand what they see and guide movements along the visual acuity. Thus, vision, language and motor skills typically evolve together during the first months of life.
The meaning of the so called ‘seeing sense’ is still not considered enough to understand its contribution to normal developmental stages and vision-related deterioration in childhood. A systematic diagnostic approach to CVI in the medical system is missing. Consequently, experimental interventions are very rare. However, due to the demographic development (e.g. the increase in preterm births) there is an increase in the prevalence and cerebral visual dysfunctions and the need for its treatment.
Early insult to the visual system affects more than visual brain perception. As visual brain processing is related to cognition, emotion, motivation and the motor system, early visual impairments could negatively influence the development of all these functional systems. Thus, human brain development depends on structural and functional visual conditions and can be significantly disturbed by cerebral visual impairment. This article emphasizes the influence of possible early damage to the visual pathways on general development and academic achievement and the implication of CVI in the development of affected children.
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