Is vision therapy after a stroke a waste of time?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Patiernan asked...

My 80 yr. old mother had a hemorrhagic stroke in June. Initially she was unable to talk or move the right side of her body as a result of a large bleed resting on the left side of her brain. After 2 weeks, all she did was cry constantly 24/7. With the help of 2 antidepressants (Zuprexa and Remeron) she came out of her slump and started talking. She was able to participate in her physical therapy and can now walk, even though it is very slow. I also believe that her short term memory has been compromised as well. She has vision loss in her right eye and the rehab suggested that I take her to a specialist for "eye therapy" after they release her next week. I went to see my Optometrist last night and he believes that "eye therapy" is a waste of time. Especially since her retention for learning is not what it should be, all they are going to do is try to teach her tricks to compensate for the loss. What are your thoughts on this?

Expert Answers

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

Before talking about "stroke therapy" and "vision therapy" for your grandma,you need to know that vision loss from a stroke is not vision loss in one eye as you have indicated; rather if your grandma's vision loss is from the stroke, which is likely is, then she has lost the right half of her field of vision in both eyes. It is not her right eye that doesn't see; it is that neither eye sees the right half of the world. She sees only the left half of her dinner plate, the left half of the room, etc. This is called a right hemianopsia. The therapy she needs for this is vision rehabilitation with an occupational therapist (not "vision therapy" or "eye therapy" which is usually done by optometrists for completely different problems). Some hospital and outpatient rehabilitation departments have occupational therapists who are skilled at working with individuals with hemianopsias. You should ask your grandma's neurologist or ophthalmologist for help in locating an occupational therapist to work with her.

The fact that your grandma's memory is affected should not mean that she could not benefit from some strategies and it would be very useful for the family to understand and recognize exactly what her visual deficit is and how you all can help her compensate.

Community Answers

Jensen answered...

My husband had a similar stroke 2 years ago. I did the eye therapy but did not feel he benefited very much from the therapy. His eye specialist fitted him with prisms in his glasses and it was like a light bulb went off in his head. He sees fairly well with his glasses.

Surajbir answered...

nice information you have provided, thanks