Q: My father had a mini-stroke last year and recovered pretty well, but he lost the left side of his vision. This causes all kinds of problems, and a lot of frustration for him. What could we do?
A: Your dad’s situation is far too common, in my opinion. And to make it worse, most patients are being told by some medical professionals that there is nothing to do. This is not accurate in most cases.
Essentially, your father sustained vascular damage to the part of his brain in the very back….called the occipital cortex. This is where the electrical signals from the optic nerves are actually turned into vision. Commonly, stroke victims are left with a missing part of vision……the top, bottom, left or right. We call this a “visual field” deficit, but in most cases the lost vision part can be improved! Why so many patients are told just to get used to this deficit is likely just lack of knowledge about vision correction by those professionals.
In Optometry, we study all aspects of vision…..including this. Your father may be able to regain some or all of that missing visual field by having a sensorimotor exam by an Optometric Physician. We often can prescribe specialized eyewear lenses utilizing “prismatic correction” to bring the missing area back into the central visual zone. This certainly does not make his vision perfect like it was before the stroke, but with a little learning he should be able see that missing area again.
With concerns about everything from reading skills to mobility / falling risks, I would advise you schedule your father with an Optometrist who includes this specialty area in their scope of practice. Most eye doctors seldom if ever prescribe these prismatic lenses, but this often neglected specialty can be so rewarding for those frustrated post-stroke patients. I wish you the best in helping your father regain safer and more normal vision again.