How will my baby's diagnosis affect development?

There are a wide variety of visual conditions which can affect children in different ways. It is important to remember that each child is an individual and even children with the same eye condition may develop very differently. Children with vision impairment might need extra support in their development, for the issues that are raised by having reduced or no vision.

One of the main considerations is that sighted children can learn about the world “incidentally” – by watching what other people around them are doing. Incidental learning can help with development and encourage a child to progress. For example, a baby who sees a toy across the floor, might be motivated to go and get it, and therefore start trying to crawl. If a child doesn’t have that same prompt, if they do not see the toy, they may not get moving so quickly and might need to be given different motivators, or more active support for developing their skills.  

It may take your child longer to complete activities, and you may feel that you want to step in to help, in order to speed things up. Try to let your child do things for themselves as much as possible, as practising is the best way that they will learn and develop their independence.

It can be helpful to consider the effects of having a vision impairment on communication. Being able to understand social cues and habits such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures are important in forging relationships, and may go unnoticed or be misinterpreted. Your child may need some help in understanding how non-verbal communication affects the way that people interact.

A child with severe vision impairment might reach developmental milestones a little later than sighted children, due to this need for additional and more active support to develop their skills and understanding of the world. Nevertheless they can be supported to thrive and reach their potential.

Recent research has shown that the Developmental Journal for babies and children with Vision Impairment (DJVI) is the most effective framework to secure good developmental outcomes for children in their early years. The DJVI is a tool that will chart and celebrate your child’s progress, and provides a programme of how to support your child as they grow.

Further information about the JVI is available from your Local Authority Vision Impairment service, which is the key channel for professional support. If you live in England you can find your local service using our Local Offer database:

For those that live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you can find your nearest Local service on the Sightline Directory by entering your postcode and the search words 'Local authority'.

Further information and advice regarding children and babies with sight loss including a 'Guide for Parents' can be found on RNIB's Resources for parents of blind or partially sighted children and Guide Dogs Children and Young People webpages.

Did this answer your question?

Related questions

Brought to you by