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Stroke and Vision Rehabilitation

Each year, approximately 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke, of whom approximately 665,000 survive.1 Approximately 28% of stroke patients suffer from a visual field deficit and approximately 20% permanently.2 The survivors of a stroke may experience paralysis of one side of the body, vision problems, behavioral changes, memory loss, and other debilitating symptoms. While occupational, physical, and speech therapies have long been a standard of care for stroke recovery, now Vision Restoration Therapy can also be performed for Stroke and Vision Rehabilitation.

1 American Heart Association: Heart and Stroke Statistics - 2014 Update (

2 Ali M, et al.; VISTA Collaboration. Recovery from post stroke visual impairment: evidence from a clinical trials resource. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2013;27:133–141.

Causes and Types of Stroke

In all cases of stroke, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen which causes damage to its tissue. However, there are several types of stroke. The effects of a stroke vary from individual to individual and depend largely on which type of stroke is experienced and the area of the brain that is affected.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke is by far the most common type of stroke, occurring in over 87 percent of cases.1 The underlying cause of ischemic stroke is fatty deposits lining blood vessels. The damage to the brain from this type of stroke occurs when a blood clot forms and obstructs a blood vessel that supplies oxygen to the brain.
1 American Stroke Association

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Occurring in fewer than 13 percent of cases1, hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the rupture of a weakened blood vessel. This rupture causes blood to leak into the brain, where it pools and compresses the brain tissue leading to various neurological symptoms.
1 American Stroke Association

Transient Ischemic Attacks

Often referred to as “warning strokes, or mini strokes,” transient ischemic attacks indicate that a patient is at risk for a major stroke. During a transient ischemic attack, a blood clot temporarily blocks blood flow before naturally resolving.

Effects of Stroke

The effects of stroke are variable and diverse; they depend on where and to what degree the brain was affected. However, one rule holds true: because the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa, a stroke affecting one side of the brain will cause problems in the opposite side of the body.

A stroke may cause one or more of the following:

  • Vision problems
  • Paralysis in one side of the body
  • Balance problems
  • Personality/behavioral changes
  • Speech and language problems
  • Memory loss

Vision Problems Related to Stroke

Stroke can cause a variety of vision problems, including:

  • Loss of one half or one quarter of the visual field (hemianopia/hemianopsia or quadrantanopia)
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty recognizing faces, letters, numbers, etc.

Please consult the page on types of vision loss for more details on vision problems common in the survivors of stroke and brain injury.

In the past, stroke-related vision loss was considered untreatable. However, research has led to significant advances in Stroke and Vision Rehabilitation techniques.

Stroke and Vision Rehabilitation

Even if a stroke survivor perceives no problems with his or her vision, he or she should have a vision evaluation as soon as possible after the stroke occurs. Ideally, this evaluation should be done by a doctor that is familiar with Vision Restoration Therapy. Visit our VRT directory to locate a Vision Restoration Therapy prescribing doctor.

Spontaneous Improvements

Within up to three months of a stroke, some resolution of vision or other problems may occur spontaneously — that is, naturally and with no conscious effort. However, stroke survivors are often left with lingering vision difficulties even after spontaneous improvement and require therapeutic intervention.

Alternative Therapeutic Strategies

There are three main strategies for potential visual rehabilitation:

  • Substitution: the use of optical aids whereby the sighted field can be extended towards the blind field. This is a coping strategy that does not increase sensitivity in the blind field but rather uses prisms to optically shift part of the visual space.

  • Compensation: using saccadic training, patients are trained to rapidly and continuously scan their surroundings in order to direct their gaze toward the blind field, bringing the previously unseen objects within their sighted field. NovaVision’s NeuroEyeCoach™ is an internet-delivered, at-home computer based therapy which re-trains a patient to move their eyes, re-integrate left and right vision and to make the most of their remaining visual field.

  • Restoration: Restitution is the only therapy that provides actual improvement in the range or sensitivity of the patient’s field of vision. NovaVision’s VRT repeatedly activates dormant neurons that do not function properly in areas of partial injury (“transition zones”), strengthening residual vision and neuronal networks. Repetitive stimulation has proven effective in the recovery of other functions such as movements of lower limbs after stroke.

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. 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.

More Information About Stroke and Strokes and Vision Rehabilitation

To learn more about vision loss after stroke or brain injury, as well as NovaVision VRT as a Strokes and Vision Rehabilitation, please browse our website, contact NovaVision Client Services, or call 1.888.205.0800.