The annual conference for Pediatric Ophthalmologists from all over America and around the world has ended. From one mother’s perspective, volunteering at the conference was an education in itself.
For the first time, the Pediatric Cortical Visual Impairment Society had a table in the AAPOS (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus) exhibit hall.
The Pediatric CVI Society is the one organization in America focusing on raising awareness about CVI and advocating for improvement in medical and educational outcomes for children with CVI. It is a 501 c3 non-profit organization driven by membership and donor funding. HINT HINT (www.pediatriccvisociety.org)
The PCVI table was around the corner from the Perkins School for the Blind table. Perkins has become a leader in moving education about CVI forward for providers and families. (www.perkinselearning.org/cvi)
Carol Kinlan from Perkins and I referred interested doctors to each other’s tables. It was very encouraging to have another champion for children with CVI in the exhibit hall. Not only is there strength in numbers, there is momentum in numbers.
And, there was yet another champion for children with CVI raising awareness and creating traffic at the PCVI and Perkins exhibit tables.
Dr. Sharon Lehman, a Pediatric Ophthalmologist from Nemours Hospital in Delaware, generated interest among the attendees with her scientific poster presentation on a survey she sent out to pediatric ophthalmologists and teachers of visually impaired.
Here is some of the information from this poster presentation. CVI families may find this particularly interesting.
Attitudes Concerning Cortical Visual Impairment Among Pediatric Ophthalmologists and Teachers of the Visually Impaired.
An email study was distributed to the 2 groups via their two respective national organizations (AAPOS and AER). The survey contained questions about the following:
Frequency of seeing children with CVI
Adequacy of education about CVI during training
Comfort with making diagnosis
Adequacy of communication from the pediatric ophthalmologist
Comfort with making recommendations
Referral of patients for services
Interest in receiving further education about CVI
The response rate for pediatric ophthalmologists was 8.0%.
The response rate for TVI was 14.8%.
A significant gap was identified in opinion of the adequacy of communication from the pediatric ophthalmologist to the care team.
Communication was deemed adequate by 61.9% of pediatric ophthalmologist respondents while it was considered not adequate by 68.4% of TVI respondents.
The majority of respondents of both groups (80.5% of pediatric ophthalmologists and 85.8% of TVI) wished to learn more about CVI.
The survey highlights gaps in knowledge and attitudes concerning the care of patients with CVI that limit the effectiveness of the team’s patient care. The strong desire to learn more about CVI is a positive finding that bodes well for patients.
The relatively low response rate (8.0% of pediatric ophthalmologists and 14.8% of TVI) is a limitation. It may indicate that there is a core section of individuals within both provider groups interested in CVI who could develop expertise in providing services for children with CVI. The attitudes of the nonrespondents is unknown and could be valuable in interpreting the data.
Lack of standardized methods for evaluation and diagnosis and for providing recommendations for children with CVI create challenges for the care team. Improved clinical education of pediatric ophthalmologists and TVI and development of standardized tools that can provide the patient’s team with necessary information are practical ways to approach this problem.
It was heartening to see research about CVI discussed by the medical community. We need our pediatric ophthalmologists to acknowledge CVI and to learn what to do when they identify a child with CVI. Dr. Lehman’s work is having a positive impact.
Here is what I heard from the majority of doctors who came to the PCVI Society table to get more information and resources for their patients and to join the email list.
“I see so many of these kids in my office.
I get so many of these kids.
I don’t know where to send them.
I don’t know what to give them.
CVI is scary.
I don’t know what to do with it.”
I am glad these doctors were willing to approach the PCVI Society table, and to admit that they need more information. I am glad that this year these doctors left with a list of resources and take away information about how to diagnose CVI.
Bravo to the doctors who are seeking out new information and who are not afraid to admit that they have more to learn. Bravo to the doctors who are seeking out a community for their patients. They are championing children with CVI as well. Someone should bake pies for these people!
Encouraging education and debate about Cortical Visual Impairment (Cerebral Visual Impairment, Neurological Visual Impairment, Rumplestiltskin – whatever term we are using today) is critical to the common goal of getting our children diagnosed more quickly and accurately.
To this mother’s untrained eye, it seems as though, until recently, when conversation about CVI turned into debate about which word follows the “C” – Cortical or Cerebral – the debate stopped. The opposing sides retreated to their camps and dug in until further notice.
This unyielding approach (from the jaded and sleep deprived eye of a mother who sat through too many hours of unsuccessful IEP meetings, so consider the source) does a disservice to doctors, teachers, families, and most importantly, children.
This approach has left many children sitting in classrooms without access to their educational environments. This approach has left many confused parents piecing together information from competing (?) sources in their individual attempts to educate the uninformed doctors and teachers in their child’s life. This “approach” is not an approach at all. It is static and unproductive.
Now on many fronts there is a willingness for an open exchange of ideas and research. Much of this openness has been fueled by the urgency of families who will wait no longer.
Every presentation, every poster, every question asked at an exhibit table brings us closer to our common goal.
Let’s keep our lines of communication open with our pediatric ophthalmologists and pediatric neuro-ophthalmologists. Next time you see your child’s doctor, you can mention the AAPOS conference. You can tell your doctor that CVI is becoming a hot topic and – just a thought – that you’d like your doctor to participate in the conversation. Even better, you two can have your own conversation.
Image: Dr. Sharon Lehman and Rebecca Davis standing in front of the exhibit table for the PCVI Society at AAPOS 2018
P.S. The conference hall NEVER got warmer or brighter. I decided the architect of the Washington Hilton was just a huge science fiction fan. (It is possible I had some time on my hands for random speculation while sitting and freezing at the table.)