Visual Impairment After a Stroke: What You Should Know

In the UK, at least one in six people suffer from a stroke in their lifetime. About 30 per cent of them are likely to experience a stroke again. Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in the country.

One of the ways a stroke can affect a person physically is having impaired vision. This happens when the stroke damages the brain’s vision centre. This is a common effect of occipital lobe stroke or cerebellar stroke.

Fortunately, there are vision impairment aids available to help patients recovering from stroke see better. However, it’s still crucial to learn more about stroke-related vision problems to help a patient recover and regain healthy eyesight faster.

The 2 Ways Eyesight is Affected After a Stroke

Understanding the difference between the two ways a stroke affects a patient’s visual capabilities will help them seek the right kind of treatment and management method. This will eventually lead to faster recovery.

A stroke can impair eye muscle control. This disrupts coordination, causing double vision and other symptoms. These neuromuscular problems do not signify that the eyes are damaged. Instead, the parts of the brain that handles muscle control need healing.

Another way a stroke leads to vision distortion is when it affects visual processing. In this case, there’s no problem in eye muscle control, but the brain cannot correctly interpret and process the images fed to it. When this happens, a patient may experience visual field or central vision loss.

Common Types of Vision Problems After a Stroke

bad vision

Most stroke survivors complain of different vision-related difficulties, such as poor balance and reduced depth perception. Some also experience reading and visual memory problems. Here’s a list of the common vision issues that stroke patients may experience:

1. Double Vision

When a patient has double vision, it means they lost depth perception. This happens when the images from the two eyes don’t come together. Eye patches can help reduce the information the brain needs to process, but it’s a temporary solution.

2. Oculomotor Dysfunction

This happens when the eyes cannot smoothly move to track moving objects or items in different positions. This condition affects reading, as the patient cannot move their eyes smoothly from word to word. It can also alter how a patient walks.

3. Spatial Inattention

This is common for patients who have unilateral paralysis. For instance, if the patient lost control of their right side, they tend not to notice objects and people on their right side. As a result, they become less capable of judging the space around them. This is best treated with rehabilitative therapy.

4. Midline Shift

In this condition, the patient will see the floor and walls as if they are tilted. To compensate, they will also slightly tilt their head or body. Addressing this issue involves activities and therapy routines designed to improve balance. Special visual aids can also be used to aid in gaining proper spatial perception.

Recovery Involves Adequate Knowledge and Professional Help

Rehabilitation and visual aids can help improve most of these conditions. However, before patients try any treatment, they should consult their doctor and tell them about their visual difficulties. A neurologist may refer a patient to an ophthalmologist who can then perform a thorough eye check and recommend the right treatment and rehab method.

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