Stroke affects a number of physical abilities, including limb function, fine motor skills, and vision. Nearly 66% of stroke victims will experience some changes in vision. Here are 10 facts about vision and how it relates to stroke.
Loss of vision after stroke may be overlooked.
Because treatment for stroke is so centered on the life-threatening conditions or other severe side effects of stroke, vision loss may not be noticed right away. If you notice any new vision problems after you go home, be sure to talk to your doctor or eye doctor about it.
Vision is not just about sight.
Visual processing problems can make it difficult to function in your daily environment. These include decreased balance, decreased depth perception, and reading problems, all of which can be troublesome for stroke victims. They may trip or fall more, become disoriented, and it may be difficult for them to move independently.
Loss of vision in one eye can be a pre-stroke warning sign.
Some people experience what is called a transient ischemic attack or TIA before they have a stroke. TIA can be accompanied by vision loss in the left or right side of the visual field.
Visual field loss is common after stroke.
Your visual field is the entire area you see when looking straight ahead. It includes your peripheral and central vision. Each of our eyes has its own field of vision, and these overlap. However, when you have a loss of that visual field due to stroke or other brain injury, you experience a gap or blank spot in an area of your visual field.
The most common type of visual field loss is hemianopia.
This is a complete loss of the visual field to the right, and when this happens, you’re unable to see objects on your right-hand side or communicate effectively with people positioned to your right. Seeing on that side requires that you move your eyes to bring the object or person into view.
Visual neglect can impact quality of life.
Visual neglect — also called spatial inattention — means you lose the ability to pay attention to the side of the body impacted by the stroke. In some cases, it’s almost as though the brain doesn’t recognize that side of the body because it’s not able to process information from that side. This is more common in people who have had a stroke on the right side of the brain, which affects awareness of the left side of the body.
Double vision is another common problem.
Nearly 87% of stroke patients have double vision, blurry vision, or trouble tracking, known as oculomotor dysfunction. This leads to a loss of depth perception and can cause trouble walking, reading, and participating in other activities. Oculomotor dysfunction can sometimes be helped using eye patches.
Vision is usually affected in both eyes, not just one.
Stroke victims most commonly experience homonymous vision loss, meaning vision is affected in both eyes. This can be much more debilitating than experiencing vision loss in just one eye.
Visual loss after stroke isn’t about the eyes — it’s about the brain.
It isn’t the eyes that are damaged following stroke; it’s the visual pathway in the brain that is affected. Eye movement problems can result due to problems with fine nerve control, and visual processing problems mean the brain is having difficulty processing the information received from the eyes.
Some recovery of vision loss after stroke may be possible.
As the brain recovers, some vision problems may improve with time. Therapy can also help you learn to compensate for vision loss and make the most of your remaining vision. There are a number of visual training and restorative treatments available, so be sure to consult with your eye doctor and others caring for you during this time.Keep your vision healthy with a trip to the eye doctor.
Regular eye exams are an important part of protecting your health, not just your vision. Contact us to set up an appointment today.