How does a stroke affect one’s vision?

Up to 66% of people experience visual problems following a stroke.

How does a stroke affect one’s vision? in Manhattan

Amplify EyeCare Manhattan

More than 50% of the brain’s cortex is involved in processing visual information.

Needless to say, if there has been damage to the brain, such as a stroke, there’s a high chance that your vision will be impacted. Vision is much more than just how clearly you can read from the eye chart. It involves so many complex skills connected to how the brain communicates with the eyes and perceives what we see. It depends where the stroke occurred in the brain and the extent of the impact it had on the brain tissue, but a stroke can cause various vision related issues including difficulty with reading, depth perception, balance, and visual memory, just to name a few. 

The main areas in the brain related to vision are the:

  • Brain stem - controls eye movements, the way you recognize and understand what you see and it’s related to balance and stability and
  • Occipital lobe - this is the main vision center of the brain and most visual processing occurs here 

What kind of visual damage can occur after a stroke?

There are many ways that a stroke can affect your vision. Some common visual implications are explained below.

Visual Field Loss

The visual field is the entire area you can see in all directions when your eyes are fixed in one position. When a stroke occurs, around 20% of people suffer from permanent visual field loss. There are different parts of the visual field that can be damaged due to a stroke:

  • Hemianopsia - a person can lose half of their visual field; it could be on the right side or the left side of the visual field
  • Quadrantanopia - a person loses a top or bottom quarter of the visual field
  • Scotoma - a blind spot in one or both eyes

Eye Movement Disorders

There are various ways that a stroke can affect the nerves and muscles that control your eye movements. Some examples include:

  • Nystagmus - a condition when the eyes move in a constant vibrating type of motion
  • Oculomotor dysfunction - difficulty controlling eye tracking movements
  • Strabismus - the eye turns inwards, outwards, or any other direction and is misaligned with the other eye
  • Diplopia - double vision

Dry Eyes

Some people who have suffered a stroke have a hard time blinking or fully closing their eyes which can affect the moistness of their eyes and can lead to dry eyes. This can cause a burning sensation, irritation, and/ or blurry vision.

What kind of visual damage can occur after a stroke?

Brain Plasticity

After a stroke, you have to go through various rehabilitative treatments as part of the recovery process. It is so important to make sure to include vision as one of your systems that can use rehabilitation and strengthening, just as you would for speech rehabilitation or any other skill or system that requires attention after a stroke.

You might not know if you have experienced damage to your vision after a stroke so it is essential to have your vision evaluated by an optometrist. After the eye exam, if there has been harm to your vision, the optometrist can recommend various treatment plans. There is no reason to let your vision stay compromised when thankfully there are great rehabilitative treatment options as visual skills can be trained and strengthened. The brain has an incredible feature known as plasticity which means it can adapt to new challenges and be trained to accomplish various feats.

How We Can Help Your Vision After Surviving a Stroke

Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation

There is a field within optometry which has been proven to greatly improve a stroke survivor’s visual system. Neuro optometric rehabilitation can allow you to reclaim your independence and even regain visual abilities after suffering from damage to your vision due to a stroke.
Neuro optometric rehabilitation is vision care that goes beyond the simple correction of eyesight via contact lenses and eyeglasses. In particular, it focuses on the neurological side of the larger visual system, which includes not only the eyes, but the brain as well. As such, neuro optometric rehabilitation therapy centers around improving the brain-eye connection to treat a wide range of vision problems.
Our optometrist utilizes a wide variety of exercises and visual learning games, along with devices such as specialized lenses, to help you attain, improve, or regain the important visual skills which will help resolve your visual issues.

Low Vision

Low vision is the result of partial but irreversible visual impairment. A diagnosis does not mean that you are blind. It just means that you have problems that cannot be corrected with conventional interventions, and that you may require vision devices and training to enhance your remaining eyesight. In most instances, a person retains some degree of vision that usually responds well to specialty glasses or other vision aid. The field of low vision is dedicated to helping patients reclaim their independence and improve their quality of life, despite any visual impairment.

What kind of visual damage can occur after a stroke?
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Amplify EyeCare

Optometry practices within the Amplify EyeCare brand represent the cutting edge of medical & specialty eyecare. Our eye doctors, who have offices all over the United States, are some of the leading specialists in their field, including:

  • Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation
  • Developmental & Pediatric Optometry
  • Low Vision
  • Specialty Contact Lenses & Myopia Management
  • Ocular Disease
  • Dry Eye

 

Resources:

American Stroke Association
College of Optometrists in Vision Development
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA)

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