Approximately 15 million people around the world suffer from a stroke each year. Visual Dysfunction occurs in 2 out of every 3 stroke survivors. These problems can range from irritating to debilitating and can seriously affect a person's quality of life and ability to function. Fortunately, there is hope for stroke survivors who suffer from stroke-related vision problems.
In our office, Family Eye Care, we are dedicated to helping patients who have suffered a stroke and help patients regain visual skills so they can enjoy a better quality of life.
Below, we’ll explore how a stroke can impact vision and what a neuro-optometrist can do to help.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when oxygen does not reach the brain, either due to leaking or bursting blood vessels, or a blockage within the blood vessel. Patients who have had COVID and have "recovered" have similar symptoms, even if their COVID symptoms were relatively mild. Serious brain damage can occur within minutes of a stroke, making early intervention crucial.
Signs of a stroke include:
- Numb or weak limbs
- Slurred speech
- Trouble walking
- Dizziness or loss of coordination
A large portion of the brain is involved with vision, therefore, a stroke frequently affect the visual processing.
How a Stroke Can Affect Vision
If a stroke occurs in the areas of the brain that control the eye, it can cause:
- Blurred vision
- Visual field loss
- Double vision
- Dry eye syndrome
- Sensitivity to light
- Nystagmus — rapid, uncontrolled eye movements
When a stroke affects the areas of the brain responsible for visual processing, it can cause:
- Unilateral Visual Inattention. Many people still use the older term: Visual Neglect. This means that an individual ignores what they see on one side. This is a bit different than a Visual Field loss. Some people still use the term Visual Field Cut.
- Visual hallucinations
- Poor depth and movement perception
- Difficulty recognizing objects or people
3 Ways a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help Stroke Survivors
1. Identify and Diagnose Any Visual Dysfunction
A Neuro-Optometrist has special training and expertise required to correctly identify, diagnose and treat even slight visual dysfunction that may be causing symptoms. A Neuro-Optometrist renders a Functional Visual Evaluation to assess neurological vision-related complications and identify the type of vision loss caused by the stroke.
2. Rehabilitate the Visual System
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy provides visual procedures to retrain the brain to use the visual system more effectively. This means using the eyes to work together and then to make better sense of what someone is seeing. A stroke may break certain neural connections. Neuroplasticity is the process of regaining those damaged connections. The benefits are long-lasting and the goal is to return to as many skills as possible.
3. Prescribe the Correct Lenses or Prisms, As Needed
Neuro-Optometrists prescribe specialize lenses or prisms to aid in the therapeutic process. Prism lenses shift images into the functioning part of a patient’s visual field, or, in the case of double vision or visual inattention (neglect), bring the images from each eye together to see one whole picture. Often prism alone can bring significant relief and improve symptoms like disorientation or double vision. Syntonic Phototherapy (see elsewhere on our website) can bring on remarkable changes.
Some patients only visit an occupational therapist or physical therapist after a stroke, especially if they are in a hospital or rehabilitation center. These are often helpful, but may not fully address the entirety of the visual problem.
How We Can Help
We offer patients who had suffered a stroke the ability to regain and restore visual skills through Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation. We have programs specifically for individuals who have suffered a stroke to restore independence and return to the person you once were. Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy enables individuals who suffer from Dizziness and Vertigo by rebuilding the connection between the visual and the vestibular (balance system) that is in the inner ear. This then reduces depression and increasing confidence levels.
If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we can help. To schedule your functional visual evaluation, contact Family Eye Care today.
Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, and Edison, all throughout New Jersey.
- A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help any person suffering from visual dysfunction after a head injury, traumatic brain injury or stroke, or anyone with neurological conditions that impact their vision. If you experience any symptoms associated with visual dysfunction like dizziness, disorientation, headaches, nausea or difficulty concentrating— it may be time to visit your neuro-optometrist.
- A: The best time to start treatment is as soon as possible following a stroke or head injury, but treatment can also be effective years later. The basis of neuro-optometry is neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and build new neural connections. As long as a person is alive, there is potential to heal their visual system.
"name": "#1: Other than stroke patients, who can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?",
"text": "Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help any person suffering from visual dysfunction after a head injury, traumatic brain injury or stroke, or anyone with neurological conditions that impact their vision. If you experience any symptoms associated with visual dysfunction like dizziness, disorientation, headaches, nausea or difficulty concentrating — it may be time to visit your neuro-optometrist."
"name": "#2: Can neuro-optometry help if the stroke occurred months or years ago?",
"text": "The best time to start treatment is as soon as possible following a stroke or head injury, but treatment can also be effective years later. The basis of neuro-optometry is neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to change and build new neural connections. As long as a person is alive, there is potential to heal their visual system."