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Understanding Changes in Vision Following a Stroke

By Cherie Coe, 9:00 am on

Approximately 66 percent of adults experience changes in their vision after a stroke, with partial blindness and perception difficulties being the two most common types of associated impairments. The Jefferson County, CO, elderly care professionals at Home Care Assistance discuss these types of stroke-related vision impairment, their treatments, and the steps your aging loved one can take to prevent them.

Partial Blindness

Rather than complete blindness, the vision loss following a stroke is typically partial and results in conditions such as:

  • Hemianopia – When this condition develops, half the visual field is lost
  • Quadrantanopia – Blindness occurs in one-quarter of the visual field
  • Scotoma – The area of blindness resembles a small island
  • Tunnel Vision – The outer half of each eye is blind, eliminating peripheral vision

Perception Difficulties 

The changes in vision that occur after a stroke can alter a senior’s perception and may include:

  • Double Vision – Seeing two images of one object
  • Visual Midline Shift – The center point of vision moves off to the side, causing seniors to tilt their bodies to the left or right, which can lead to dizziness
  • Visual Neglect – When this occurs, seniors ignore objects in half of their visual field, and eating food from half of their plate or shaving half of their face is not uncommon
  • Agnosia – Damage to the brain prevents seniors from recognizing common objects

Treatment

While receiving Jefferson County post-stroke care, your loved one will likely also be receiving some type of post-stroke therapy focused on expanding his or her visual field. An ophthalmologist can design and oversee your loved one’s treatment, which may include:

  • Optical Therapy – Mirrors and prisms move images from the blind area to the sighted side
  • Eye Movement Therapy – Eye muscles are trained to compensate for lost vision by moving only within the sighted field, which enhances reading abilities and speed of perception
  • Visual Restoration Therapy – Light is used to stimulate the edge of the blind field and activate partially functional nerve cells

Stroke Prevention

Because these types of vision impairment are directly related to experiencing strokes, seniors should take measures to prevent strokes. A few of the steps your loved one can take to reduce his or her risk include:

  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Exercising three times a week
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol
  • Keeping blood sugar stable
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Losing excess weight

The most important disease prevention strategy is obtaining eye exams every six months. An ophthalmologist can identify the pathology and begin early treatment. Evaluation involves a painless dilation of the eyes so the doctor can visualize interior structures.

Changes in vision are not the only symptom that can make life challenging for a senior who has experienced a stroke. If your loved one needs help during his or her recovery, turn to Home Care Assistance. Our expertly trained caregivers can assist with mobility and exercise, prepare healthy meals, provide transportation to medical appointments, and help with daily tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping. In addition to stroke care, we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care Jefferson County families trust. For more information and to schedule a free in-home consultation, call (303) 987-5992 today.