Helping Children with Vision Loss

This is an article published in the Autumn 2014 newsletter of The Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC). This article features a patient of Dr Michael Jones, one of our paediatric ophthalmologists here at Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists. You can access the full article at:

Jacob is beginning to explore his world

Jacob, who has vision loss, was diagnosed with aniridia at 11 weeks of age. This condition affects the formation of the eye. Now, fortnightly home visits from RIDBC are helping Jacob progress by reinforcing his visual skills.

“We had never heard of aniridia,” said Jacob’s mother, Lesleigh. “There is a real spectrum within the condition that creates a lot of uncertainty. On diagnosis, our ophthalmologist referred us to RIDBC and told us they would be our most important resource – he was right.”

Within weeks Jacob was receiving home visits from staff at RIDBC Early Learning Program (Vision Impairment).

“I was so impressed at the speed it was all done,” said Lesleigh. “There we were with our new baby, who had just been diagnosed, and this group of people came along and were there to help. They couldn’t have been more embracing.”

Jacob is now almost a year and a half old and continues to receive home visits from RIDBC.

“Through RIDBC we have a dedicated consultant and an individualised program. RIDBC is introducing Jacob to play-based activities that not only stimulate but challenge, his functional vision,” said Lesleigh.

“RIDBC also supports my family. It’s wonderful to have someone to talk to about practical issues or difficulties, to have encouragement and to be told that you are not alone in this journey.”

Jacob is progressing well.

“We are using toys and playing games which stimulate his vision. RIDBC has given us activities and techniques to use with Jacob to encourage him to interact with his environment in as many ways as possible,” said Lesleigh.

“When Jacob learned to walk he was able to manoeuvre within his own environment. That’s a big development for any child but perhaps it was a bit bigger for us as we still don’t know how his vision is going to affect each stage of his development.”

With RIDBC’s support Lesleigh is confident about Jacob’s future.

“RIDBC provides all the resources and materials needed to assist in his learning process,” said Lesleigh. “Before you have a child with vision loss you don’t realise what an isolating experience it can be. RIDBC has taken that sense of isolation away.”