Can sight be lost from a stroke, and then regained?

Brandnew asked...

Has anyone lost their sight due to stroke and the regained it? If so, how long did it take and what did you see as you recovered it? My fiance says he see flashes of light and shadows like when he wears a hat he can see the rim of the hat or he can see the tip of his nose but not consistently. Has anyone experienced this. He lost his sight two months ago after being diagnosed with cavernous sinus thrombosis which caused him to have two strokes one on each side of the brain. The opthmologist says that they see damage in his right eye due to the swelling from the cavernous sinus thrombosis, however the left eye he sees no damage and it is perfectly fine. He says we just have to wait.

The Neuro says that the strokes were not in the vision areas of the brain and is referring him to a Neuro Op.

Any advice is helpful. We have been keeping positive but just seeking to understand.

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

This is a bit of a complex situation, but I'll try my best to give you some answers.

First, I would agree with the Neurologist you saw. Your fiance's vision problems are not due to a standard "stroke", and therefore an Ophthomologist or Neuro-Ophthomologist would probably be better at giving you answers as to the recovery that would be expected.

A standard "stroke" would be expected to cause a blockage of the artery that supplies either the eye itself or the parts of the brain that control vision. This is not what happened here. My guess is that your fiance had a clot in the veins behind the eyes, which caused a build-up of pressure behind the eyes, and thereby damaged the eyes. This is different than damage resulting from an occlusion of arterial flow to the brain or eyes.

In general, the brain and eyes can recover after damage has been done, but they typically do so at a slower rate than other organs. Also, often recovery is not complete.

Given his improvement thus far - now seeing outlines of shapes - and the information about the left eye having no visible damage, I think there is reason to hope for further recovery. As a general rule of thumb, recovery continues for anywhere between 6-24 months after an injury, but I have heard of recovery even farther out. This website is full of stories from people who have continued to have some recovery long after the standard 24 month window.

Given the complexity of the situation, I very much agree with the advice to see a Neuro-Ophthomologist. And I certainly hope your fiance the best of luck with continued recovery of vision.