Strokes occur when there is an interruption of the supply of blood to the brain, either because of a blockage or because a blood vessel inside the brain bursts. Strokes can leave an impact in different ways, including affecting your visual system.
Over 700,000 people in the United States suffer from a stroke each year, and is the fifth leading cause of death in the country according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately two thirds of those who suffer a stroke do survive, however, but require some amount of rehabilitation.
Strokes, due to the fact that they occur in the brain, can lead to damaging effects throughout the body, including in the realm of vision.
Around two thirds of those who survive a stroke will have some form of visual impairment, usually related to problems with eye movement, visual perceptual defects, or decreased central or peripheral vision.
Specific symptoms can include:
As might be expected, these problems can have major impacts on one’s quality of life, making tasks ranging from driving to social interaction a major challenge.
Given how common vision issues are among stroke victims, it is advised that everyone who survives a stroke receive a comprehensive vision screening as soon as possible following the incident. The sooner a problem is detected, the sooner treatment can begin, and the problems can be prevented from growing worse.
It must also be noted that while strokes do impact vision, they can also lead to damage throughout the body, and other specialized evaluations will be required to catch those problems.
Treating any damage to the body caused by a stroke will take some time, and each area where damage has taken place will need a different sort of specialized treatment, and our optometrists are equipped and prepared to coordinate with other healthcare providers providing treatment or therapy for damage elsewhere in the body.
For vision problems caused by strokes, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy has been shown to be an extremely effective treatment.
Following the functional eye exam which will make it clear exactly which areas of vision have been affected by the stroke, our optometrist will craft a personalized treatment plan for you.
This may include exercises designed to train the brain to properly manage your vision and compensate for vision loss, along with specialized prism lenses which are capable of shifting images in the visual field or of joining images to mitigate the effects of double vision. Our optometrist may prescribe additional therapy with a low vision occupational therapist.
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy has been shown to be very effective at helping patients recover vision skills lost due to strokes. While the extent to which one will recover, and the speed at which it will take place varies on a case by case basis, it will enhance the patient’s quality of life toward what it was prior to their stroke.
While the amount of damage strokes can do to the body is well known, less well understood is the damage one does to the visual system. In fact, most stroke survivors will experience some sort of vision issue stemming from their stroke, and it's important that these problems be caught and treated as early as possible. Fortunately, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy has been shown to have success treating these sorts of problems.