The brain is a complex organ that controls a variety of body functions, including vision. Depending on what part of the brain was impacted by the stroke, it’s possible to have permanent vision changes.
About two-thirds of people who have had a stroke experience vision changes such as decreased depth perception, reading problems and poor visual memory. Most of the time, these changes are permanent, though some recovery is possible with the right care.
Why Do Visual Changes Happen After a Stroke?
Vision problems after a stroke are actually quite common. Our eyes send information to different parts of the brain involved in seeing, known as the visual pathway. If the stroke affects any part of the visual pathway, your sight can be impacted.
The two areas of the brain responsible for visual processing are:
- Occipital lobe. Most visual processing happens in this region of the brain – depth perception, color determination, object and face recognition and visual spatial processing.
- Brain stem. The brain stem is responsible for many important functions of life such as breathing, consciousness, eye movement and the ability to recognize and understand objects.
Types of Vision Loss that Can Occur
There are four main types of problems that can occur with your vision following a stroke:
- Visual field loss. Visual field loss means you can’t see a section of your field of vision. Some people lose one side of their visual field, while others lose the center of their visual field.
- Eye movement problems. Sometimes a stroke can affect the way you move your eyes. This can make it difficult to judge distance between objects, or it might make your eyes move constantly.
- Visual processing problems. A stroke can also affect the way your brain processes the information it receives from the eyes. The most common complication is neglect, which happens when your brain doesn’t receive information about what you are seeing. This can cause you to accidentally ignore people or objects.
- Dry eye. Strokes can even cause dry eye or light sensitivity. This happens because the eyes don’t stay moist enough due to problems with blinking or closing the eyes.
How to Manage Vision Changes Following a Stroke
Your healthcare team will assess your eye problems and advise you on your options. Most patients receive various rehabilitation therapies to help them make the most of their vision. The goal of these therapies is to help survivors compensate for their losses and regain as much function as possible.
Examples of rehabilitative therapies for the eyes are:
- Relaxation and breathing techniques
- spatial awareness and balance activities
If you recently suffered a stroke and are experiencing vision problems, contact Empire Retina Consultants in Brooklyn, NY for an appointment. We can help you make the most of your vision while regaining confidence and independence.