Vision Loss After A Stroke Or Brain Injury
Strokes and traumatic brain injuries often cause a variety of visual symptoms, one of which is the loss of side vision — also known as Hemianopsia. In fact, it is one of the most common side effects of a stroke or traumatic brain injury and can leave the patient disoriented and struggling just to make it through the day. Patients with this condition often find themselves afraid to go out due to concerns around their safety. If you’re suffering from Hemianopsia or care for someone who has it, don’t lose hope. Get help by contacting an IALVS eye doctor and begin your journey to a better life.
Low vision eye doctors offer several low vision aids, glasses, and devices to maximize the vision in those with vision loss, thus enabling them to regain independence and experience an improved quality of life.
How Can a Low Vision Optometrists Help Post-Stroke/TBI Patients?
Stroke survivors or post-TBI patients with visual problems often feel frustrated and discouraged after being told by their neuro-ophthalmologist or neurologist that “nothing more can be done to help restore lost vision.” Fortunately, that is not entirely accurate. A low vision optometrist can treat stroke-related visual challenges by maximizing the patient’s remaining usable vision.
Following a comprehensive functional visual evaluation, a low vision eye doctor will provide a customized program of exercises to train the patient to visually scan in the direction of the field loss with minimal head turning.
Once a patient has learned compensatory visual scanning in the direction of the hemianopsia, advanced optical technology prescription Side Vision Awareness Glasses (SVAG) should be considered for safer ambulation, and to enhance activities of daily living in the direction of the field loss. SVAG can help patients independently shop for groceries, safely take walks and cross the street, and watch TV.
If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke or TBI resulting in vision loss, contact an IALVS low vision eye doctor to schedule your appointment and to learn more about the visual aids and strategies that can improve your quality of life or that of a loved one.
How Can Stroke or Brain Injury Impact Vision?
A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of blood flow to an area of the brain. Visual deficits result when the brain is deprived of oxygen in areas involved in receiving visual information from the eyes.
Even a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as a mild concussion, can result in visual dysfunction. A bump or blow to the head can interfere with the healthy functioning of the brain’s visual pathways and cause a host of visual symptoms.
What Is Homonymous Hemianopsia?
Homonymous Hemianopsia is a visual field loss on the left or right side of the vertical midline. It can affect one eye, or more commonly — both eyes. Hemianopsia occurs when the occipital complex (the brain’s visual processing center) is damaged. If a person’s right occipital lobe is damaged, the left visual field in both eyes will be abnormal. Similarly, if the left occipital lobe is damaged, the right visual field in both eyes will be affected.
Living with this type of visual loss can render even the simplest of tasks difficult to execute. Individuals with hemianopia may be afraid to leave their homes due to concerns regarding their safety. They may become confused in a busy visual environment — such as a crowded street — where they may bump into people, or fall off a curb they’re unable to see. The good news is that a low vision eye doctor can offer various visual aids to assist those with side vision loss so that they can continue doing the things they love and feel safe outside of their home.
What Is Hemispatial Visual Neglect?
While homonymous hemianopsia refers to side visual field loss, visual neglect is an attentional problem that makes it difficult to attend to stimuli on one side of the body. Patients with hemispatial visual neglect will usually be unaware of their inability to perceive the left or right side of the world.
Unlike patients with hemianopia, who are aware of their lost vision and automatically tilt their head or eyes into the blind field to try to compensate, visual neglect patients are unable to recognize that they have an issue with their vision. Naturally, this poses a significant safety risk for themselves and their environment.
This condition may affect a person in several ways. For example, the patient may not respond to someone’s voice if the person is on the impacted side, or may not be able to recall memories or the location of items or places that would normally be to his or her left or right, and, in the case of a man, he might shave only one side of his face.