Vision Loss & Stroke

General Information

Approximately 800,000 people have strokes in the U.S. each year. A stroke is caused when there is a disruption of blood flow to the brain. The effects of a stroke depend on which parts of the brain are affected, and can affect body movement, speech, sensory function and even vision. Strokes are also the leading cause of serious long-term disability. After speech impairment, the two most common results of stroke negatively affect a person’s vision.

One stroke-caused visual condition is called hemianopia and is present in about 15% of stroke patients. Hemianopia affects half of a patient’s visual field. Walking straight, reading and many other simple tasks are made extremely difficult because of this condition. A second condition is called diplopia, or double vision. It affects approximately six percent of all stroke patients. Diplopia causes the eyes to fail to work together, causing depth perception issues, a reduced field of vision and everyday confusion.

Other vision effects of a stroke include decreased night vision and the need for more light in order to see properly.

Warning signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Numbness in the face, arms, legs or one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, balance issues or lack of coordination

Risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excess salt intake
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes

How can low vision rehabilitation help?

It is the philosophy of rehabilitation that if a person is able to focus on their capabilities rather than disabilities, they will be able to begin the process of adapting to the environment and becoming a viable part of it.  The rehabilitation program begins with an evaluation of the person’s abilities and the skills needed to meet the requirements of daily life. Using the information gained from the evaluation, the rehabilitation specialist and the patient set specific, measurable goals for what must be accomplished to enable achievement of the desired level of independence. A treatment program is then designed to remediate the identified deficit areas and achieve the person’s goals. The process begins with dependence and a sense of helplessness and ends with independence and a sense of self-achievement.

For more on vision loss and its relation to strokes, visit: http://www.stroke.org/

If you and your doctor determine that your quality of life could benefit from rehabilitation, ask him or her to refer you to the Envision Rehabilitation Clinic, or call us to set up an appointment at 316-440-1600