A recent study is shining a new light on visual impairment after stroke. The study was carried out in the UK; nevertheless the findings are significant for both stroke survivors and medical professionals worldwide. Dr Fiona Rowe, Reader in Health Services Research at the University of Liverpool was determined to gather data that would scientifically support the view that post stroke vision loss is in fact a serious issue for many survivors which currently largely goes unaddressed, unlike other post-stroke rehabilitation.
The study drew on a very wide range of clinical papers on the subject which had relevant data for her to analyse and determine what the magnitude of the problem really is. This new study has taken a fresh look at 64 existing studies with data from 26,321 patients.

This review set out to determine exactly how often visual problems occur after stroke as well as the proportion of stroke survivors affected by visual problems after their stroke. Additionally, Doctor Rowe was seeking a way to accurately document the rate and extent of recovery by patients.

What Did the Study Reveal?

The findings concluded that 65% of stroke patients suffer from visual impairment with vision field losses ranging from 19-92%. One of the primary types of visual impairments that were identified related to difficulties with Ocular Movement. A lack of Ocular Mobility can hinder a patient’s navigation skills and ability to find objects. Vision compensation therapies such as NeuroEyeCoach can lead to meaningful improvement in this area by increasing the efficiency of a patient’s eye movement and re-training the patients’ ability to make the most of their remaining vision.

Reduced Central Vision was another significant problem that was revealed in the study. This type of vision field loss is highly prevalent and often causes stroke survivors to run into objects, trip or fall, knock things over, lose their place when reading, or be surprised by people or objects that seem to appear suddenly out of nowhere. Many patients become afraid of venturing out in public because they may easily get lost in crowded areas.

A solution that should be seriously considered by anyone suffering this type of vision loss is Vision Restoration Therapy. VRT is prescription therapy, clinically supported by studies in which notable improvements were seen in over 70% of the patients. It is currently the only commercially available, FDA-cleared therapy designed to restore vision loss due to neurological brain damage.

The study also looked at reduction of visual problems without active intervention and based on work done in previous studies concluded that there was a reduction of visual problems from the time of stroke to 28.2% after 30 days and 20.5% at 90 days highlighting the need for an active intervention.

What Should You Take Away?

The Stroke Association and Thomas Pocklington Trust funded this study to highlight to the UK’s Department of Health the significance and prevalence of vision disorders among stroke patients. The findings suggest that the issue is significant and should not go unaddressed. Visual impairment is common after stroke and the information uncovered in this review should have an impact on how all stroke patients are treated moving forward.

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