Cortical Visual Impairment - CVI
More than 90% of Keren Or’s children have been diagnosed with cortical visual impairment. CVI is a type of visual impairment which results from damage to the visual centers of the brain, so the eyes are able to see, but the brain is not able to interpret what is being seen. Due to the brain’s plasticity, with the right visual stimulation and environmental inputs, new neural pathways can be created and a child’s vision can be dramatically improved. At Keren Or, we provide cutting-edge vision therapy that can actually improve our children’s ability to see!
Keren Or strives to create the ideal environmental, emotional, and educational conditions for students who are blind or have visual impairments and additional complex disabilities. Due to decades of experience, and an exclusive focus on this population, Keren Or is uniquely able to support students with these complex needs.
Keren Or's vision unit works in close coordination with the classroom and therapeutic staff to provide educational and rehabilitative tools that meet our students' visual needs.
The vision unit is in constant contact with senior professionals from the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, and other leading experts, and places an emphasis on functional development grounded in research on effective interventions for children with Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). For students with CVI who are independently mobile, we emphasize mobility and orientation, and support is provided by a teacher for the visually impaired who specializes in this area.
At the start of every academic year, the vision specialists, together with the school teachers, evaluate the functional vision of each student as compared with his/her diagnosed impairment, and establish whether the child has an ocular impairment or a cortical visual impairment. The evaluation entails interviewing the child's parents, reviewing the child's medical records, observing the student in a dark room, and interacting with the student in his/her natural environment. After the evaluation, the vision specialists adapt the child's individual educational plan, and make recommendations for both the home and school learning environments. In this way, every student with CVI or ocular vision impairment receives targeted, personally tailored, care that enables them to meet their full potential.
Keren Or is a leader in vision rehabilitation for children with CVI. In partnership with Israel's Ministry of Education, David Yellin College, and other stakeholders, we are proud to offer training and guidance to families, as well as medical professionals, teachers and therapists.
More About CVI
CVI (Cortical Vision Impairment) is a brain-based visual impairment which affects the brain's ability to comprehend visual information. CVI does not source from an ocular (eye) impairment. An individual with CVI may have eyes that work, but because the visual pathways in their brain are altered, their ability to see is affected. About 90% of learning in the first years of life is visually-based. As such, children with visual impairments – especially those with multiple disabilities – do not benefit from the same level of exploration and exposure to the world.
CVI is the leading cause of visual impairments in the US and first world countries. The advancement of medical science and technology has enabled premature infants as young as 24 weeks of gestation to survive. These profoundly preterm infants are at risk for brain hemorrhage, infections and other developmental complications.
At least thirty parts of the brain are involved in processing visual input. Damage to any of these areas will impact the individual’s vision, and the specific kind of impairment depends upon where the damage occurs. For example, one individual with CVI may not be able to interpret photographs, while another may only be able to see moving, shiny objects.
Progress in the field of MRI brain scanning has led us to understand that CVI demands a radically different approach to intervention than ocular impairments. In the past, ocular impairment strategies were employed to treat CVI to no avail; these children were considered untreatable.
Today, functional MRIs demonstrate that disruption to visual pathways may affect specific characteristics of visual behavior, unique to Cortical Vision Impairment. With this expanded consciousness, we now understand that CVI can actually improve with the brain’s plasticity, when presented with appropriate, individually-tailored intervention. If the right strategies are employed, we can expect improvement in the child’s vision.
Our Specialized Adaptations
Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy developed a functional vision assessment called the “CVI Range”, which categorizes ten brain-based visual behaviors. At Keren Or, we use Dr. Roman-Lantzy’s evaluation to assess our children’s needs and make personalized recommendations for vision therapy and adapted educational tools. Here are just a few examples of what we do to help our children learn and see everyday!
At Keren Or, our team has extensively studied cutting edge research in the field of brain vision. We implement Dr. Roman’s evaluation to design customized educational programs for each student. 90% of our student population has been diagnosed with CVI, so this evaluation has incredible impact upon each student’s educational and rehabilitative plan, as well as their independence, joy and quality of life.
Keren Or is the only school in the Middle East (and of only a few worldwide), with expertise in working with students with multiple disabilities, CVI and other visual impairments. Our professionals work as a team to integrate vision rehabilitation into every aspect of a students’ schedule: physiotherapy, communication therapy, social and educational interactions. This carefully coordinated collaborative and holistic approach enables comprehensive rehabilitation, independence, and active integration into society. We believe in the children's potential to thrive.
Meet the Director of our Vision Unit
Keren Or's vision department is headed by Ms. Dalia Yellin-Weil, MSc., a certified psychotherapist and rehabilitation specialist for the MDVI (Multiple Disabilities & Visual Impairments) population. She has served as the Director of Rehabilitation at Keren Or School for Students with Vision Impairments and Multiple Disabilities since 2013 and has been working with children with visual impairments and additional special needs and their families since 2001.
Dalia facilitated a support group for parents of visually impaired babies at the Eliya Center from 2008-2013. She currently holds a private practice in Vision Rehabilitation and has lectured and taught in a wide variety of professional forums, including the Israel National Conference for Child Development, Leumit Healthcare Systems, The Ministry of Education, Bezalel Academy for Art and Design and David Yellin College.
Dalia's private psychotherapy practice is based in psycho-dynamic psychotherapy, family systems and EMDR, integrated with expressive modalities-utilizing art materials, sand tray and play. She works with adults, families and children. Dalia can be reached at Dalia.Yellin@gmail.com