Types of vision impairment after stroke

vision impairment after stroke

Vision impairment is quite a common stroke after effect. At least half of the stroke survivors will experience some kind of vision impairment. However others may have blurry vision or have other sorts of changes in vision. In this article find out what kinds of vision impairment after stroke are the most common.

It is also not rare to experience vision impairment on one side. For example, if you experienced a stroke in the left side of your brain, you may have vision impairment on the right side. If the right side of your brain was damaged, then you might experience vision impairment on the left side. Optic nerves as well as body sides are controlled by the opposite side of the brain. This means that vision impairment will align with bodily disability.

Vision impairment on one side

Field of vision can narrow or a part of it “goes missing”. This condition which stroke survivors often experience is called homonymous hemianopsia. In this condition, an injury to the left part of the brain results in the loss of the right half of the visual world of each eye. An injury to the right part of the brain produces loss of the left side of the visual world of each eye. This condition is created by a problem in the brain function rather than a disorder of the eyes themselves. As a stroke after effect, it is most common to experience homonymous hemianopsia on the left side.

Defects in visual perception

Around one third who has experienced a stroke can experience defects in visual perception. It can manifest as not being aware of one side of the body, difficulties of recognizing faces, objects or color perception. When a stroke survivor is not aware of one side of their body, it is a kind of attention impairment which means being unaware of that whole side. It is caused by a stroke in the parietal lobe. This impairment is not only related to vision, it also relates to one’s spatial perception. In certain cases it is possible to experience difficulties perceiving moving objects. Also experiencing impairments in perceived information from the surrounding environment is common.

Eye movement impairment

It is quite common to experience a defect due to eye position called strabismus. Strabismus is an incorrect eye position in relation to eyelids and the corners of the eyes. With strabismus, the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. Having difficulties focusing vision on objects that are closer or further is also a type of eye movement impairment. A common occurance both during stroke and as a result of stroke is double vision or twitching.

How to recognize if your loved one has vision impairment?

If your loved one with stroke doesn’t recognize or doesn’t inform you about any of the aforementioned impairments, others may notice them only much later during rehabilitation. Especially if a part of the field of vision is missing or is narrowed. Because the brain can activate a compensation mechanism that replaces the missing part of the field of vision with another image. When one experiences narrowed field of vision, they may run into a doorway, a pole in the street, etc. They may also not notice objects on the right or left side. Other kinds of vision impairment is difficulty finding objects on colorful, flat surfaces or difficulty reading. Along with these impairments comes decreasing self-confidence and independence in daily life because of loss of stability. Therefore the person doesn’t want to go outside on their own, because they are experiencing fears of missing something or falling.

What can be done in the case of vision impairment?

In most cases vision impairments are permanent, however it is possible to minimize them with eye training or coming up with a compensation mechanism. In case of any vision impairment it is important to consult with an ophthalmologist or neurologist. That way you can find out whether there are any methods or options to alleviate a stroke survivor’s daily life and promote independence. In the case of double vision, covering one eye might help. It might be possible that an eye specialist will recommend you some technical vision aids (glasses, magnifying glass, screen reader,etc).

Vision impairments cause a lot of discomfort to anyone, besides after a stroke this can be an additional factor for unsafety. Even though most such impairments are irreversible, sometimes it can happen that vision recovers spontaneously or due to diligent eye training. In this case VIGO can help you. It is digital therapy for stroke rehabilitation which you can use in a tablet. The screen is big enough, and the option for resizing the letters is suitable for patients with vision impairment. That way a stroke survivor can use it safely and comfortably during their recovery process.