Stroke Lingo Part 4: Vision Changes After Stroke
Mar 16, 2020
Stroke Lingo Part 4: Vision Changes After Stroke

With an estimated 65 percent of individuals experiencing some form of visual impairment following stroke, it is practical for survivors to develop an understanding of vision-related stroke terminology. For those following the Stroke Lingo blog series, our fourth installment explores words related to the visual system. Read along to get a glimpse at a variety of terms describing how a stroke can affect our ability to detect and interpret visual information.

Types of Post-Stroke Vision Changes

  1. Visual Field Loss
  2. Visual Neglect
  3. Eye Movement Dysfunction

Visual Field Loss

The visual field is the entire area the eye can see when in a fixed position.

A view of a park from two normally-functioning eyes. This represents a full, intact visual field.

Anopsia refers to the inability to see part or all of the visual field. This condition is often referred to as a visual field cut. There are multiple types of visual field cuts that can occur after stroke including:

Hemianopsia: Loss of one half of the visual field of each eye

Hemianopsia-loss of one half of the visual field of each eye

Quadrantanopsia: Loss of one quarter of the visual field of each eye.


This type of vision loss occurs following damage to the optic nerve fibers that relay signals from the eyes to the brain's main visual processing center, the occipital lobe. Depending on where this pathway is damaged, vision loss may result on the same side of both eyes or opposite sides of each eye.

Individuals with a visual field cut are at risk of missing visual details in their blind spot. For example, a person with a left visual field cut might be at risk of tripping over a chair leg on their left side when walking. They might miss words on the leftmost side of the page when reading a book. They miss these details because they can no longer see as far to the left when looking straight ahead, as they did before the stroke. People with field cuts are encouraged to compensate by performing frequent head turns to the side of their blind spot to get the full picture of their environment.

A visual field cut is usually permanent; however, individuals with this type of vision loss are often aware of their field loss and can learn strategies to function around it successfully.

Visual Neglect

Visual neglect, hemispatial neglect, and visual inattention are interchangeable terms indicating a lack of awareness of the left or right side of the visual field. Unlike a field cut, an individual with neglect is often unaware of the missing information and may require a degree of cueing or assistance to attend to their neglected side. This condition can extend from one's own body into their environment, affecting ability to process different forms of stimuli including sights, touches, and sounds on the neglected side.

For example, an individual with left neglect might seem as if their eyes are always looking to the right and cannot easily move towards the middle or leftward. They might brush only the right side of their hair and think they are finished with the task. They might be startled by a loud sound on their right side, but not react to the same sound on their left. Neglect causes the brain to have trouble processing information from both sides of the body and environment equally. An occupational therapist can help an individual with neglect explore ways to better attend to the neglected side of the visual field or to compensate by bringing neglected information towards the intact side.

A half-eaten personal pizza may appear finished to someone with left-sided visual neglect. Their brain is ignoring the part of the plate that exists in their left visual field. This individual might learn to compensate when eating by fully rotating their plate to ensure no food remains.

Eye Movement Dysfunction

If a stroke damages the nerves that control eye movement, the eyes may no longer be able to stay in the same position or move smoothly together. Misalignment of the eyes is known as strabismus. Eye misalignment can cause double vision, also known as diplopia, as well as blurred vision. A neuro-optometrist or therapist may recommend particular eye movement exercises exercises or issue an eye patch or specially taped glasses to help strengthen weak eye muscles and correct the alignment.

Will my vision get better after a stroke?

While recovery of vision is possible within the first few months after a stroke, some survivors will experience lingering vision loss or dysfunction. A visual rehabilitation team including a neuro-optometrist and an occupational therapist can help assess visual function and create a comprehensive treatment plan to allow clients to make the most of their eyesight.

Hepworth, L., Rowe, F., Walker, M., Rockliffe, J., Noonan, C., Howard, C., & Currie, J. (2016). Post-stroke Visual Impairment: A Systematic Literature Review of Types and Recovery of Visual Conditions. Ophthalmology Research: An International Journal, 5(1), 1–43. doi: 10.9734/or/2016/21767

The Stroke Association. (2018). Visual Problems After Stroke. London, England.


Is Post-Stroke Telerehab For Me? What You Need to Know
Stroke Recovery
Is Post-Stroke Telerehab for Me? What You Need to Know
While many physical therapists turn to virtual care, how can you be sure if telerehab is right for you? Find out here if you should join the telerehab train.
Best 5 Apps for Stroke Survivors to recover faster
Stroke Recovery
Best 5 Apps for Stroke Survivors to recover faster
Who knew you could boost your stroke recovery by using your smartphone or tablet? Check out these 5 apps that can help you progress in your rehab and wellness.
Walking After Stroke: 7 Exercise to Improve Strength and Balance
Physical Therapy
Walking After Stroke: 7 Exercises to Improve Strength and Balance
Gait training and balance training are key components of post stroke rehabilitation to help you learn to walk, improve your balance and coordination, and increase the strength of your hips, knees, and ankles to support your body when you move.
Using the Neofect Smart Glove to Maximize Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) is used to treat people with Hemiplegia by constraining or restricting movement of the non-affected hand to force a person to use their affected hand.
What  does  a  drop  foot  brace  do?
Foot drop
What Does A Foot Drop Brace Do?
Are you contemplating to buy a drop foot brace? Here is the check list you need to consider before buying one.
NeoMano: A Grasp Assist Device Gets Ready to Make a Debut!
NeoMano: A Grasp Assist Device Gets Ready to Make a Debut!
The NeoMano is a soft, wearable robotic glove that allows for grasp of everyday objects using the thumb post and the pointer and middle fingers with use of titanium wires and a small motor and battery pack.