Common Vision Problems after a Stroke or Brain Injury

Published: 27th October 2008
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A stroke can cause several physical and vision problems. Some of the common impairments are hemianopia (hemianopsia), quadrantanopia, vertigo, difficulty in reading and comprehending, trouble recognizing faces, double vision, and more. Hemianopia is a condition in which half the field of vision in one or both

eyes disappears. Quadrantanopia is a form of hemianopia in which a quarter of the field of view in one or both eyes is lost. There can be other problems as well, many of which are common to both stroke sufferers and brain injury victims.

Usually, visual problems that appear following a stroke are due to brain damage or damage to the optic nerve. Within three months of a stroke, some victims receive spontaneous improvement to their vision through no action of their own. Nevertheless, although some improvement occurs, not all stroke victims recover completely from their visual impairments.

Over 1 million Americans suffer visual impairment from brain injuries, usually from blunt trauma to the head. Most of the blunt trauma head injuries occur in motor vehicle accidents. The injuries can also cause problems with memory, sensation, motor skills, and other skills. Some of the visual problems that appear following brain injuries are:

• Double vision

• Blurriness

• Trouble distinguishing colors

• Hard to maintain eye contact

• Dry eyes from not blinking often enough

• Staring

• Light sensitivity

• And others

Stroke victims also experience many of the listed visual impairments caused by brain injuries. Optic nerve damage can occur from either stroke or brain injury. Optic nerve damage can change the way the brain processes the images a person sees. Damage to the optic nerve can cause blindness, poor vision, and other visual problems, but it can also cause confusion to the victim because the brain may process visual images in a different manner. The victims can have memory difficulty and they may not be able to process faces, words, and even their own body movements as they once did. It can be very disconcerting to them, which can lead to depression and other psychological disorders.

Visual field loss can be treated with vision restoration therapy after a brain injury and vision rehabilitation in stroke patients.

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