When you experience a stroke, many ensuing challenges may come as a surprise, including vision changes. Even if your eyesight seems unaffected, understanding how a stroke can affect your vision is essential.
The American Stroke Association estimates that 65% of stroke survivors experience vision problems. While few fully regain their vision, some recovery is possible through a proper diagnosis and expert care.
It is important to learn about the vision changes that can occur after you have a stroke and how your optometrist can help.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke results from the blood supply to an area of the brain becoming reduced or interrupted, resulting in brain tissues not receiving the oxygen and nutrients necessary for survival. Brain cells die within minutes of oxygen and nutrient deprivation.
There are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. A blockage causes an ischemic stroke in the arteries by a blood clot or plaque. In contrast, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain artery ruptures or develops a leak and may result from high blood pressure or an aneurysm.
How a Stroke Can Affect Your Vision
Whether you experience vision changes after a stroke depends on the area of the brain the stroke affected. Visual processing occurs in the occipital lobe, the central vision center of the brain, and the brain stem, which controls balance, stability, eye movements, and recognition.
Vision Loss After a Stroke
Some strokes affect the visual field or the area a patient sees in front of them. There are three main types of vision loss a patient experiences after a stroke:
- Homonymous Hemianopia: Vision loss in the right or left of the visual field
- Homonymous Quadrantanopia: Vision loss in the upper or lower visual field
- Scotoma: Blind spots in one or both eyes
These types of vision loss can affect mobility, recognition, and reading capabilities.
Other Visual Challenges After a Stroke
There are other ways that a stroke can affect your vision. A stroke can also cause issues like:
- Spatial inattention, or lack of awareness on the side affected by the stroke
- Eye movement disorders due to nerve or muscle damage
- Dry eyes resulting from trouble blinking or fully closing eyelids
These conditions can cause patients to struggle with depth perception, balance, coordination, double vision, and eye irritation.
Vision Rehabilitation Goals After a Stroke
Working with an expert San Diego optometrist who offers vision rehabilitation can restore some of your functions and help you to meet your therapy goals. After a brain injury or stroke, patients may experience several changes that affect daily life.
Vision rehabilitation often plays a critical role in restoring mobility and balance and resuming independent function. Working with occupational therapists, physical therapists, and physiatrists can help you achieve your objectives.
Some of the goals of vision rehabilitation include:
- Diagnosing the extent of the vision challenges
- Determining functional complaints
- Addressing activities of daily living that therapy can restore
- Improving your overall vision quality of life
As part of vision rehabilitation, we’ll work with you to restore as much of your visual function as possible and offer tools to help expand your visual field and improve your awareness of vision deficits.
Vision Rehabilitation Service for Strokes
After a stroke, your optometrist should address your vision needs as soon as possible. They can work with your rehabilitation team to help you implement new tools and learn new ways to perform tasks that consider your vision changes.
When you visit your optometrist for vision rehabilitation, they’ll first conduct visual field testing to identify the vision challenges resulting from the stroke. They’ll then create a plan to improve your vision or adapt accordingly.
Vision rehabilitation typically involves a combination of three therapies:
Optical therapy uses prisms and mirrors to position images in a way that restores gaps in the visual field. These tools can also correct challenges in depth perception, double vision, and other new impairments.
Eye Movement Therapy
Eye movement therapy retrains the eyes to create a new visual scope by encouraging scanning of the affected visual field. It can also strengthen the eye muscles, allowing for better control.
Visual Restoration Therapy
Visual restoration therapy stimulates blind spots with blinking or moving lights that spark the neurons damaged through the stroke.
Visual Rehabilitation Is Essential to Stroke Recovery
Many new difficulties arise after a stroke and adapting to your unique challenges with vision rehabilitation can improve your overall function and quality of life.
Rancho Santa Fe Optometry provides those suffering from vision problems after a stroke with the tools, vision aids, exercises, and support they need to restore as much function as possible and learn new adaptations. Contact our team today to schedule your comprehensive examination in the Rancho Santa Fe, California area.