Strokes, Brain Damage and Vision
Strokes happen as a result of blood loss to the brain. Blood clots and hemorrhages can negatively affect adequate blood flow throughout the brain and it’s tissues. Not only can strokes cause loss of speech, paralysis, or drooping of one side of the face or body, they also frequently have a significant impact on visual coordination.
What are common visual results of a stroke?
These visual complications vary in nature and severity. They are often annoying and consistent, though not always easily detected by healthcare providers. Visual overload (similar to the supermarket effect), light sensitivity, fluctuating blurry vision, convergence insufficiency and difficulty maintaining prolonged fixation or focus on objects are common.
Visual conditions caused by a stroke can generally be ranked into one of the following categories:
- Central vision issues. This is best characterized by large changes in clarity of vision.
- Loss of visual field. Up to half of stroke victims experience loss of vision in the right or left visual field. This condition may or may not be easily recognized.
- Visual perception deficits. Someone who experiences this may lose awareness of one side of their body, have trouble recognizing faces, struggle to recognize certain colors, or experience reduced depth perception or increased motion sensitivity.
- Eye movement abnormalities. These can manifest as misalignment of the eyes (strabismus), difficulty focusing on near objects, or double vision. This is often the result of damage to the cranial nerves which control the extraocular muscles.
Can these effects be treated?
To a large degree, yes! Neuroplasticity is a term that refers to the brain’s ability to rewire itself and adapt to do what it needs to do, in spite of damage. While each individual case will vary, we have seen improvement in a wide variety of post-stroke visual problems through the use of prisms, lenses and vision therapy.
Consistent vision therapy can sometimes restore those key connections which enable the brain to correctly process and interpret visual information. By presenting distinct, repeating stimuli to the brain we can target specific visual abilities that have been lost, and retrain the brain’s ability to coordinate the visual system.
Some mild visual problems post-stroke may be reversed in a mere matter of weeks. Other problems can take months depending on the severity of the condition. Regardless, if you or a loved one is experiencing visual disturbances due to a stroke or other brain trauma, our doctors and staff may be able to help.