Your vision depends upon two factors: healthy eyes and healthy visual processing in the brain. Visual processing happens in your occipital lobe (‘vision’), The temporal and parietal lobes enable you to ID and categorize objects, recognize faces, and have visual/spatial awareness (ex., contrasting colors, depth perception, motion detection). A stroke may interrupt this processing. Aria’s optometrists frequently provide vision care to residents who have experienced some type of neurological event, requiring a specialized approach to vision care, especially in light of whether a stroke’s impact is short- or long-term in nature. Sometimes the vision changes are permanent; for others, there can be varying degrees of improvement (correction). An 8-month study by The Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland provides interesting insights/data:
- Poor vision following a stroke worsens other impairments.
- 25% of stroke patients didn‘t have their glasses while in the hospital (where vision challenges may go unidentified)
- 23% had glasses that were unacceptably dirty, scratched, or damaged
- Visual impairments following stroke should be evaluated by an optometrist and treated.
- Over 50% of the study patients benefited from refractive correction(updated eyeglasses).
In addition to a stroke-related vision challenge, nearly 1/3 of the 77 participants had one or more prior vision issues (macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataract).
Nearly every aspect of post-stroke recovery can be more difficult with vision impairment. Occupational and physical rehabilitation, as well as speech-language pathology success are good examples. An unaddressed vision deficit’s impact upon mood (depression/social isolation) is problematic because it can affect the desire to work toward recovery or cause behavioral challenges. Are eyeglasses always the answer? Not necessarily. According to Dr. Doug Streifel, OD, Aria’s Chief Medical Officer, “a comprehensive eye health examination enables our optometrists to use the most appropriate interventions based upon a patient’s needs. There are a variety of vision aids, like optical prisms, video and hand-held magnifiers, as well as small telescopes. What’s vital is that we have the early opportunity to support someone’s post-stroke recovery and regular opportunities to monitor progress.”