Following a stroke, you might experience problems with your vision, but you are not alone. Up to two thirds of people experience some changes to their vision after a stroke. Having trouble with your vision can be distressing and it can affect the rest of your recovery. For example, you may not be able to walk confidently if you cannot fully see where you are going. Like other effects of stroke, visual problems do often improve in time as the brain recovers.
What are some problems after stroke?
A stroke can cause a number of vision problems—also called visual disturbances. There are many types of vision problems and possible treatments for them. How you are affected depends on exactly where the stroke occurred in your brain. Post-stroke vision problems can fall into one of two general categories, vision loss or perception problems.
Vision loss also known as visual field loss, is common after stroke. Frequently it is experienced as blind spots in the field of vision. Specific visual field loss conditions are named based on the location and size of the visual loss. Different types of visual field loss include:
Damage to your brainstem and/or cerebellum makes it difficult to process what the eye sees, also known as vision perception problems. You may find it difficult to coordinate movement and focus your eyes resulting in double vision. It may affect your ability to blink, resulting in dry eyes. You may experience a variety of vision perception problems, depending on where the stroke occurs in your brain.
Common perception problems include:
The brain stem houses three pairs of nerves that control your eye movement. If they are damaged and do not allow one or both eyes to move together, you may experience double vision and visual midline shift.
Perception problems that result from brain stem damage are called ocular motility (or movement) impairments. For example, double vision results when your eyes are not able to work together to move into the correct position. Damage to the cerebellum can impair your ability to coordinate looking in the same direction with both eyes.
Both the brain stem and cerebellum play a role in sensation. Damage to these areas can lead to loss of feeling, which makes blinking difficult and causes blurry vision or visual neglect.
Can Vision problems be treated?
There are many treatments for visual disturbances. Consult with an optometrist, ophthalmologist or primary care provider for suggestions about specific vision problems, symptoms and treatment. Treatment plans will be customized to fit your vision problems and needs.
The goal in developing a treatment strategy for vision loss is to expand the visual field. Treatment can be broken down into three different categories:
There are several treatments designed to correct perception problems. Here are some common treatments for perception problems:
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