Visual impairment across the lifespan: Neuropsychological perspectives

Lisa M. Noll, Lana L. Harder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction: Vision is often an essential capacity for the interaction between individuals and their environment. Yet, for some individuals, an impaired visual system alters that opportunity. Visual loss can be lifelong, present from birth; for others, it can be progressive or abrupt. For some individuals, particularly those who lose vision later in life, the loss of vision is associated with a corresponding loss of independence, and impact on their emotional status. A lifespan perspective regarding visual impairment (VI) holds that the experience of VI since birth or early childhood is qualitatively different from the experience of individuals who acquire VI later in life. For example, in early childhood, VI impacts psychomotor and cognitive development that relies upon visual information processing and places challenges on the educational system, which must provide appropriate supports. In contrast, when acquired later in life, VI may place challenges on the ability to complete tasks of daily living, be independent, and engage in leisure activities, but not affect learning status or how knowledge is shared. While VI may impact the trajectory of lifespan development, it also taps an individual's (and their family's) ability to cope effectively with the challenges VI elicits. Professionals working with individuals with VI must take into consideration the developmental trajectory and cognitive, behavioral and psychological sequelae of VI when assessing neurocognitive functioning, to determine the most appropriate educational, vocational, and/or rehabilitative setting to optimize quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples and Practice of Lifespan Developmental Neuropsychology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780511674815
ISBN (Print)9780521896221
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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