If your child has low vision, you may be anxious to know what they can see. Can they see you from across the room? Can your child see the smile on his grandmother’s face as she watches your child play? Can they see the details of the rivers on the map? To answer questions like these and understand what your child is seeing, you may want to simulate your child’s vision.

It’s possible for you to simulate your child’s vision, but it’s important to remember that because you have “normal” vision, you already understand the world visually. Therefore, you may not exactly be duplicating your child’s experience. If your child was born with blindness or low vision or acquired it before age two, they have never been able to see “normally” and their sense of the world may be very different from yours. If your child has lost vision later in life, they may have some visual memory that provides visual references to when they use their vision today.

Getting a Sense of Your Child’s Vision

If you are interested, ask your child’s eye doctor to recommend a way for you to simulate your child’s vision. The doctor may be able to put special lenses in a pair of eyeglasses and have you put them on to get an idea of what your child is seeing.

Your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) or the orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist may also have a simulator kit. These kits have a variety of lenses that simulate different types of eye conditions, visual acuities, and visual field losses. TVIs or O&M specialists might be able to lend you a pair of simulators that approximate your child’s vision to use for a short time. If your child is blind or has very low vision, covering or closing your eyes will give you an idea of their eye condition.

What You Can Learn

When wearing simulators or covering your eyes, try doing activities you typically expect your child to do, such as finding a toy on a shelf, locating an item in a drawer, or looking for a specific picture in a book. Note the strategies you use to accomplish the task—do you:

  • Tilt your head
  • Hold objects closer
  • Move closer to an object or person
  • Use your hands to get information
  • Use your hearing

You’ll want to pay attention when you watch your child doing the same activities, and if you think any of the strategies you discovered may be helpful to him, show him how to do them.