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Scotoma – an Area of Visual Impairment

A common type of vision loss after stroke or traumatic brain injury, a scotoma is an island of visual field loss (blindness) or impaired vision surrounded by relatively normal vision. The eyes of mammals naturally have a small scotoma (blind spot) that we normally don’t notice. However, a wide range of diseases and injuries can cause a pathological scotoma. For example, a scotoma can be a sign of optic nerve damage sustained during a stroke or brain injury. Previously considered untreatable, new research has led to exciting developments in treating scotoma.

Types of Scotoma

Scotoma is a visual blind spot occurring in any part of the visual field of both eyes. A scotoma can be an area of vision loss (darkness), lightness, blurring, or distortion. When a scotoma is in a person’s peripheral vision, it may have a minimal impact on day-to-day functioning; however, a visual blind spot in the center of the visual field (paracentral scotoma) can be debilitating. The main types of scotomas include:

  • Central scotomaan area of decreased or lost vision that interferes with central vision (severely affects daily life)
  • Hemianopic scotomaan area of decreased or lost vision toward the edge of the visual field (less likely to affect daily life)
  • Peripheral scotoma: an area of decreased or lost vision toward the edge of the visual field (less likely to affect daily life)
  • Pareacentral scotomaAn area of decreased or lost vision near, but not in the central area of vision likely to affect reading and daily life.

Symptoms of Scotoma (Visual Field Loss)

The main symptom of scotoma is one or more dark, light, or blurred areas in the field of vision. Those affected by visual field loss may also experience a need for greater illumination and contrast when reading, and may have difficulty perceiving certain colors.

Scotoma’s Impact on Daily Life

When visual field loss is small and not located in the center of the field of vision, it does not generally cause problems in a person’s daily life. However, areas of vision loss after stroke or brain injury are sometimes large and numerous, impacting central vision; in this case a person’s daily life can be drastically affected. For instance, a person’s mobility may be compromised, as well as their ability to read, watch TV, and perform other everyday activities.

Treating Visual Field Loss

Vision loss post stroke or brain injury, which may include scotoma, hemianopia/quadrantanopia, and diffuse field defect, can drastically impact a person’s quality of life. In the past, these vision defects were considered untreatable.

Two things happen when someone suffers from vision related disorders following a stroke or brain injury: there is a loss of visual field as well as difficulty with eye movement, affecting the ability to integrate visual information.

NovaVision’s Vision Restoration Therapy, works by stimulating the brain in precise, consistent ways. Studies show that over 70 percent of patients who complete Vision Restoration Therapy experience significant improvements in their vision, which improves their quality of life.1 The therapy is available by prescription from prescribing doctor.

NeuroEyeCoach is designed to re-train the ability of a patient to scan the environment, re-integrate left and right vision and make the most of their remaining visual field.
While VRT addresses the restoration of lost vision, NeuroEyeCoach enables the patient to make the most of their remaining vision. The two therapies are therefore highly complementary and NovaVision provides them in a suite to ensure broad benefits to patients.

1 Romano JG, et al, Visual field changes after a rehabilitation intervention: Visionrestoration therapy, J Neurol Sci (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jns.2008.06.026 (NovaVision sponsored study)

Learn More about Vision Loss Post Stroke or Brain Injury

To learn more about scotoma, other types of visual field loss, and how you can get treatment for vision loss post stroke or brain injury, please contact NovaVision by email or call us toll-free at 1.888.205.0800. If you think Vision Restoration Therapy may benefit you, contact NovaVision for more information.