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Visual Impairments Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers Should Know

Visual impairment is a term used to describe any kind of noncorrectable vision loss, whether it's complete blindness or partial vision loss. About 10 million people in the United States are visually impaired.

Common refractive errors such as near-sightedness and far-sightedness can be corrected with glasses or contacts. But when one or more parts of the eye or brain that are needed to process images become diseased or damaged, severe or total loss of vision can occur. In these cases, vision can't be fully restored with medical treatment, surgery, or corrective lenses.

Causes of visual impairments among kids and teens include:

Students with visual impairments may:

Signs of a possible vision problem in a student who hasn't been diagnosed with a visual impairment include:

What Teachers Can Do

Students with visual impairments should be encouraged to participate in all classroom activities, physical education, and extracurricular activities. Make sure your classroom is easy to move around in and free from obstacles.

Students with visual impairments may feel self-conscious about their condition. They also might be a target for bullying.

Visual impairments can be wide ranging, so each student's needs must be considered on an individual basis.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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