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Stroke Smart Magazine

January/February 2009

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Vision Rehabilitation
Possible Vision Repair for Stroke Survivors

Humans depend on vision more than any other sense. So, the sudden, partial loss of vision can have a huge effect on a person. They may have lower confidence, less independence and a repetitive quality of life.

At least 20 percent of stroke survivors have partial vision loss. When damage occurs to one side of the brain, vision from the opposite side is usually affected. Often, stroke patients with partial vision loss complain of a blurry area on one side, bump into objects on one side or do not see things until they are directly in front of them.

It was thought that this type of vision loss is permanent and that the human brain can’t repair itself. However, many studies have demonstrated the remarkable ability of the brain to remap itself. The ability for the brain to repair and rewire itself is called neuroplasticity.

In partial visual loss caused by stroke, therapy has been mostly limited to finding ways to compensate for vision loss. However a new option for partial visual loss has become available. In 2003,Vision Restoration Therapy ( VRT) was cleared by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment for partial vision loss from stroke.

VRT utilizes focal light stimulation to trigger recovery. During each therapy session, patients focus on a central point displayed on the medical device screen and respond every time they see dots of light appear. In a majority of cases, this stimulates the brain to repair or rewire itself, improving the patient’s eyesight.

For more information on vision therapies, contact your neurologist, optometrist, ophthalmologist or rehabilitation expert.

Can VRT be Effective?

Since VRT’s introduction, a number of clinical studies have confirmed:

  • the recovery of significant portions of vision by over 65 percent of its users.
  • that patients recover vision within months.
  • the recovered vision appears to be permanent.
  • more than a thousand VRT patients have been treated to date and report dramatic improvement in their quality of life.

Who is Eligible for VRT?

To be eligible for VRT, patients must have:

  • a visual loss that interferes with their activities of daily life.
  • vision better than 20/200 (not legally blind) in at least one eye.
  • the ability to operate the computerized device for 15 to 20 minutes.



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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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