Vision Therapy can help stroke survivors

After suffering a stroke, patients can have a variety of problems, including vision. Some vision problems that might arise after a stroke are:

  • Loss of half or a quarter of the visual field
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty recognizing faces, letters and numbers

In my practice, we currently have an 83-year-old patient, we’ll call her Alice, who suffered a stroke. Alice used to be a voracious reader, but since her stroke she hasn’t been able to read for a significant length of time.

Even if a stroke survivor doesn’t notice any vision problems, as Alice did, they should still have a vision evaluation as soon as possible after the stroke occurs. When you first go in for your eye exam, the doctor will likely use a benchmark exercise to start the appointment, helping to determine the extent of the damage. This exercise will start with your eyes closed, and you will look toward the side of your body affected by the stroke. When you feel like your eyes are pointed in the right direction, you’ll open them. The doctor will look at how close your gaze is to the correct direction.

Following this and further examination, Alice was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency because one of her eyes was turning out when she tried to read. She also has oculomotor dysfunction (meaning her eyes do not move as accurately and efficiently as she'd like) and she has visual perceptual changes that make it more difficult for her to visualize words, maps, and pictures. So, in addition to some speech and occupational therapy, she has been in Vision Therapy for about 16 weeks. Alice has been making great progress getting her eyes to coordinate at near sight again, remembering words and sequences, and regaining control over her eye movements.

You can see a similar story here, from a woman named Darlene who suffered vision loss after a stroke and then regained some of that vision through a Vision Therapy program:

By Dr. Nazima Sangha of Family Eyecare Centre