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What Are the Treatments for Congenital Blindness?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Traditionally, the treatment for congenital blindness involved teaching individuals with the condition to compensate for their disability through special learning techniques. Children born with inherited blindness or blindness accrued during fetal development have generally not received treatment aimed at recovering sight. This may be changing, however, as new gene therapies are becoming more widely studied and used for those with congenital defects.

The most common treatments for congenital blindness involve teaching children with these conditions how to live as a blind person. This includes reading Braille, learning to walk with the use of a cane or guide dog, and relying on other working senses to live as normally as possible. Some infants who are born blind have limited sight, but are considered legally blind because they cannot see at a functional level when performing many activities. Even with these limitations, the ability to see light and shadows or movement to some degree greatly helps in the treatment and learning process.

Each individual is different, and will require specialized attention and treatment. This may include going to a school for the blind, or simply altering classes in a normal school setting. Some students may only require large screens for reading, special assistance, or specialized learning materials such as books in Braille. Others will need constant one-on-one attention. Many times treatment for congenital blindness will depend on the availability of programs, and any other conditions the child may have.

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Adults may continue treatment through continued training in certain areas or through learning new technologies used to aid the blind. These may include computer reading programs and similar devices which aid in everyday life skills. They may also join support groups for others who are blind to share in common frustrations and learn new coping tools.

Fortunately, newer treatments for congenital blindness are emerging and have had great success in studies which have already been conducted. One of the most successful is gene therapy. This involves injecting certain proteins into the patient which allow the retina to reflect light. Full sight is typically not restored, but in many cases patients are able to see adequately enough to function normally, read conventional books, and even drive a car with the aid of eyeglasses.

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