These webpages have been designed to explain in a straightforward way information you may have received from an eye care professional. We also have developed some practical advice and guidance for you as parents, teachers, and other people involved in your child’s daily life. This may be especially useful if your child has a vision problem
The following information has developed from research and clinical experience in eyecare. Visual information, especially when a child has reduced vision, should be:
Visual acuity is probably the most fundamental measure about someone’s vision. But what do the numbers mean? Our Real Life Examples of Vision webpage describes how visual acuity is measured, what levels of vision look like and also have printable examples of letters and pictures
When your Child has Low Vision: Practical Factsheets for Close Work
The following are one-page factsheets containing practical recommendations for close work for three levels of visual acuities. They are general guidelines, but hopefully give useful advice to help understand visual needs
Visual acuity is the term used to describe the smallest detail a person can see when looking straight at a stationary, high contrast (e.g. black on white) target in good lighting.
Things that matter about visual acuity
- How big the object is
- How far away the object is
- How many other things are close to the object
Picture exchange communication systems (PECS) are commonly used in school with children
For someone with ‘good’ or average visual acuity, such as 0.0logMAR or 6/6 Snellen, smaller objects will be easily seen, such as conventional print and pictures in a book. For someone with reduced vision, making the object bigger or getting closer will help. e.g. for 6/24 vision (0.6logMAR) make the object 4x bigger or bring it 4x closer
What do things look like with varying degrees of Visual Acuity?
Please visit our Real Life Examples of Vision webpage to learn more.
Contrast means how bright and dark different aspects of the object are. Black on white is maximum contrast. Things that matter about contrast
- How different the colours of the object are
- How finely detailed the object is
- How far away the object is
- How many other things are around the object
Ensuring things are sharply copied and that the object is composed of sufficient thickness of detail is important
What can I do to help?
Think about what you are asking your child to look at. Is it bold with solid lines and high contrast? Or is it dull with shades of grey?
A useful way to think about this is a poor photocopy of a sheet compared with the bright colourful original.
- Use bright and bold information
- Use thick, dark pens for writing, drawing, colouring etc
- Use heavily lined paper if child is writing
- Make sure material is not too detailed or cluttered
- Have well-defined boundaries around items
- Make sure steps have well-marked edges
Key points about Crowding
- Many children with special needs will have problems with visual processing, and find it hard to cope with a lot of visual information at once.
- The process of seeing involves the eyes sending the visual information they acquire to the brain, and the brain then processes the image and tries to understand the important things in the image using visual memory and discrimination. However, this process is demanding and can be delayed or overwhelmed by complex information, slowing the process down. This is sometimes called Cerebral Visual Impairment, or CVI for short.
- Children who have difficulties with visual processing can be overwhelmed with extraneous visual information and demonstrate a reduction in visual performance or decreased attention or cooperation.
- Information should be kept simple and free from clutter, and backgrounds should be plain so the child can see objects, for example, their toy easily.
- Children may need more time to look at an object.
- Looking and listening at the same time may be difficult, so some children may appear to be looking away from someone talking but they are actually trying to avoid getting extra visual information and concentrate on listening.
Things that matter about crowding
- How many things are in the foreground with the object
- How far away the object of interest is
Avoiding clutter and keeping desks clear and tidy helps to direct attention to the object of interest more easily
Visual field is the peripheral vision we are aware of and use to move and see objects appearing that we can direct our central (best) vision towards
Things that matter for visual fields
- How fast the object is moving
- How far out to the side/edge the object is
- How large the object is
If we have brain damage we can have problems with our visual fields. This can be to the right or left sides, or below or above our central vision.
- The human visual system does not just see the world in front of them, but is aware of things to the side and above and below them.
- This is called the visual field, and means that when we look straight head we are aware of things greater than 180 degrees horizontally, and approximately 70 degrees above and 80 degrees below us.
- We do not pay attention to all the things in our visual field at once, but select the important things to pay attention to.
- The visual field is very important for moving through environments and not being surprised by things coming from the side of our vision.
A common problem among parents is that their children may be reluctant to wear their glasses when they are first prescribed. This can be for a number of reasons and often results in frustration for both the child and the parent. The animation below was designed to provide parents with some practical advice for how to encourage their child to wear their glasses when they are reluctant to do so. This information is also available to download HERE
The following list of items contains information relating to a variety of common terms used in visual science. Simply click on any item to find out more about that specific term