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5. Reduced Visual Attention and Awareness

As with all cerebral visual impairments, they range from person to person. We have included this sub-section because of the different accounts we have heard.

Where there is no visual awareness, and this is severe, what is not there for the person does not exist. To the extent that an affected person could be talking to a person one minute, and then when their visual attention is moved elsewhere, that person simply ceases to exist, even if they are still standing right next to them.

In our section on Lower Visual Field Impairment we looked at the range, between a lack of attention in the lower visual field to the same thing but with added visual neglect. We used an example of two boys who were playing around a fence with protruding 'feet' beneath each fence post. One boy tripped over the foot once and remembered and jumped over every other foot because he saw the fence post. The other boy tripped over every foot every time, he was unable to form attentional memories relating to his lower visual field. The reduced attention for the second boy makes the lower visual field impairment markedly more severe than for the first.

Awareness around reduced visual attention due to simultanagnostic vision can vary from person to person in a similar way, and also for the same person, depending on other factors (see 7. Simultanagnostic Vision and Destructive Behaviours).

Experience

  • I am constantly worried that I am going to offend someone by seeming to ignore them
  • I feel stupid, it seems like I have a memory like a sieve
  • I keep leaving food on my plate that I don't know is there, then get hungry
  • I am increasingly less confident in social situations

Behaviours

  • Can seem rude, suddenly starts to ignore people

Profoundly Disabled people

In profoundly disabled people, reduced Visual Attention and Awareness may come across, in addition to the above as:

  • Suddenly becoming anxious when a known person moves away (they may feel confused and alone)

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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.