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cortical blindness

Stephan Anagnostaras stephan at psych.ucla.edu
Mon Jun 12 02:07:57 EST 1995

In article <3rgbhv$81u at ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, wakeford at ix.netcom.com
(Andre Wakeford ) wrote:

> Could any person out there help me with information on "cortical
> blindness". I need as much information on the topic as is possible, as
> we have a child in the family with this affliction, and a better
> understanding of the condition will help us enormously.
> Thanks :)

Sure, in principle this is quite simple. Cortical blindness refers to blind-
ness caused by damage to the primary visual cortex (located in the occipital
lobe - way back of the head).   If the damage is complete, for practical
purposes there is very little difference between this and the loss of
both retinas.  There are some differences which can be demonstrated
in a laboratory, but they are of very limited practical use. Alternatively,
the damage may be restricted to a portion of one of the visual cortexes,
and then a loss of part of one of the visual fields (left or right half
of space) occurs.   There is little chance of biological recovery in this
instance also, except that the loss of function is minimal since the
can compensate with eye and head movements.

The damage usually occurs because of a blow to the back or front of the
head (countercoup), but also often occurs from tumors, etc.  One final note,
there is usually some immediate recovery (within weeks of the trauma), but
not much later.  Also, it may be important how young the child is, if it
is especially young (e.g., less than 5) there is a good chance of considerable
recovery, even in the worst cases.   

If the damage is severe, and the child is older, and it has occured
some time ago, it is not likely the child will regain much function
biologically.  As such, it is important to help him (her) adapt behaviorally
so that he make his way thru the world and eventually take care of himself.
Blindness is not a death sentence; there are lots of things blind people
can do, but it is important that he(she) gain access to the right help
early on.

Good luck,


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