Hemianopia is ‘common’ vision problem that can occur after a stroke
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Strokes are serious and life threatening medical emergencies that require immediate attention. They occur when blood supply to a section of the brain is temporarily cut off. This could be due to a blood vessel bursting, or in most cases, a blood clot causing a blockage.
The sooner a person receives medical attention, the better their recovery from a stroke is likely to be.
However, some issues can still linger for a while after the event.
During a stroke a person might experience problems with their vision – including sudden loss or blurring.
According to the Stroke Association, two thirds of survivors will continue to have vision issues following a stroke.
One such vision issue is hemianopia, which is also known as homonymous hemianopia.
“Hemianopia means losing the left or right half of the visual field of both eyes. It’s the most common type,” the Stroke Association says.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) also describes hemianopia as “a common problem” after a stroke.
“Hemianopia is where there is a loss of one half of your visual field,” it says.
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“This may mean that you’re not able to see to either the left or right from the centre of your field of vision in both eyes.
“If you have a stroke to one side of your brain, you may develop field loss to the opposite side.
“For example, if the right side of your brain has been affected by the stroke, the left side vision in each eye may be affected.”
Issues caused by hemianopia
The RNIB says: “Although hemianopia does not affect all of your vision, it can still cause problems with day to day living such as locating things, coping with traffic on the street, or being disoriented in crowded environments such as supermarkets.
“Reading can also be a very frustrating experience with hemianopia as words and sentences disappear when in the missing visual field.
“Sometimes using a marker at the end of the sentence or a Post-it Note to indicate where the end of the line is can be helpful.
“A typoscope (a piece of card with a rectangle box cut out) or a bar magnifier (a long thin magnifier with a guideline on it) can be helpful by making it easier to focus on a line of text at a time. It may also be helpful to tilt the text and read it vertically.
“Sometimes with hemianopia you may not be aware that you’re unable to see from a part of your visual field.
“You can be taught scanning techniques (eye movement patterns) in the direction of the hemianopia in order to compensate.”
Stroke survivors could also be at risk of scotoma.
The Stroke Association says: “Scotoma is a small patch of vision loss, often near the centre of vision. It’s a less common type of visual field loss.”
If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke you should call 999 immediately.
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