How A Stroke Can Affect Your Vision
A stroke is a devastating health event that can have many long-term effects. One issue that may arise is trouble with vision. In fact, two-thirds of stroke survivors experience vision impairment. In medical terms, a stroke is referred to as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA. Cerebrovascular is a word that refers to the blood flow in the brain. A stroke is responsible for restricting or interrupting that vital flow of blood to the brain and that can affect many brain functions including vision because your vision is processed in the visual cortex of your brain.
There are several symptoms that may arise post-stroke that affect your vision including blurred vision, sensitivity to light (photophobia), reduction or loss in your visual field, visual-related headaches, difficulty reading, loss of control over eye movement, constant unsteady eye movement (nystagmus).
Another problem that might arise is called visual neglect. With visual neglect, the brain doesn't know how to interpret the images it receives so the patient doesn't now how to respond to visual information. Another problem is agnosia or when the patient has trouble recognizing familiar objects or faces, similar to visual neglect. With any of these issues, your ability to function on a daily basis is severely impaired, especially when it comes to vital everyday activities like reading and driving.
When a stroke patient experiences trouble with their vision after a cerebrovascular accident, the best course of action is neuro-optometry rehabilitation. A neuro-optometry optometrist specializes in creating personalized therapeutic regimens for those with visual defects caused by traumatic events, physical disabilities, or neurological conditions. Post-CVA visual problems are often related to brain function and so therapy can be helpful in re-training the brain to receive visual signals or correcting for damage that has occurred.
Neuro-optometry rehabilitation often involves the use of prism lenses or filters to help correct images in the visual field. A neuro-optometry rehabilitation specialist may also recommend exercises designed to train the brain to manage vision and compensate for any losses by making use of neuroplasticity, essentially re-training the brain to establish new neural pathways so that the patient is able to function again. This may include visual scanning and peripheral awareness exercises.
A neuro-optometry optometrist will work with a team of other specialists, like physical therapists, occupational therapists, and/or psychologists, to help a patient fully recover post-stroke. Working together, all of these specialists will help address the neurological dysfunction that a stroke causes.