Can a Stroke Affect Your Visual Field?

Author: Premier Eye Associates

Having a stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, can affect many body functions such as muscles in extremities, sensation of touch, and speech. However, a stroke can also affect the eyes and your vision.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood vessels in the brain are blocked or damaged. These damaged blood vessels can no longer provide oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

When the brain is without oxygen for long enough, the brain tissue will die and not be able to function any longer.

A stroke will cause death of brain tissue in a specific region of the brain based on which blood vessel is affected in the stroke.


Who Can Have a Stroke?

Strokes can occur in anyone, but there are factors that make an individual a higher risk for having a stroke.

The biggest contributing risk factor to having a stroke is having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

These conditions cause damage to the blood vessels and set up the proper situation for a stroke.

Additionally, age, smoking, and obesity are factors which have been shown to increase the risk of a stroke.

If you are at risk of a stroke, managing any conditions, stopping smoking, and attaining a healthy body weight are ways to reduce your stroke risk.


How Can a Stroke Affect Your Visual Field?

A stroke can cause a specific visual field defect based on the region of the brain that is affected by the stroke.

Among the most common visual field defects are homonymous hemianopias, in which both eyes have a restriction of field in the same side.

These visual field defects will cause a loss of attention to the side opposite of the stroke. For instance, a stroke on the left side of the brain could lead to a right visual field defect.

In cases of severe visual field defects, the individual will not be able to appreciate half of any scene placed before them. If asked to draw a clock, the numbers twelve through six would be placed and the numbers seven through eleven will be left off.

This concept is known as visual field neglect.


Visual Field Neglect

Many stroke patients will suffer from visual field neglect towards the side of the visual field which is impacted.

The visual field neglect occurs when the brain no longer acknowledges that the defected half of the field is present.

Patients who develop visual field neglect from a stroke are more likely to have issues with daily tasks and mobility.


Treating a Patient with Visual Field Neglect

To treat visual field neglect, a regiment of vision therapy lead by an optometrist is the best option.

In vision therapy, the patient is trained on ways to manage the field neglect as well as how to strengthen the eyes and visual system to reduce the amount of neglect.

Unfortunately, most vision that is lost due to a stroke is not recoverable and rehabilitation and training are the best options for a positive prognosis.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online  if you are interested in having your visual field tested.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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