The visual pathways begin in the back of the brain and travel to the front. Since they go through so much of the brain, it is not uncommon for vision problems to occur as the result of a stroke. Problems with vision can be very devastating to the patient who had normal or near-normal vision before the stroke.
- Common vision problems caused by stroke include:
- Total loss of vision in one or both eyes.
- Partial loss of vision in one or both eyes.
- Loss of vision in half of the visual field--the patient may not see anything on one side.
- Double vision--the patient sees two of everything.
- Blurred vision
- Loss of the corneal (blinking) reflex-- the patient is unable to blink, or to close the eye completely.
Assistance from therapists and nursing staff will help the patient to adjust to this new problem. Food items may have to be place on one side of the table if the patient is having trouble seeing to one side. He or she may need to be reminded to turn their head from side to side to see everything.
An eye patch worn over one eye is often useful for patients with double vision. This can be used until the problem lessens or resolves.
If the patient has lost the blinking reflex, lubrication and eye protection may be needed to protect the eye from becoming too dry or from being scratched.
One-sided neglect is a problem that is associated with visual field impairments. It occurs more frequently in patients who have had a stroke in the right side of their brain. A person with one-sided neglect ignores or does not acknowledge objects or people to one side of him or her. The patient may not recognize his or her own arm or leg on one side of the body and think that it belongs to someone else.
Special adjustments may need to be made to help the patient become more aware of their entire surroundings. Using the "scanning" technique (turning the head from side to side) to be sure that both sides of the entire area are seen is one thing that the patient can be taught to do to help adjust to this problem.