After suffering from a stroke your vision can often slip to the back burner as your survival becomes your top priority. The fact of the matter is that your vision disorders have a significant knock on effect to other activities of daily living. For this reason, rehabilitation at the appropriate time can be imperative to other areas of your daily life such as your ability to communicate effectively, reading, coordination, and balance. Visual field loss is a common sign of stroke or other brain injury with about 30% of patients suffering vision disorders. Patients who have suffered neurological brain damage that has resulted in a visual field deficit often also have additional difficulties with eye movements.
Unfortunately, many patients and even Physicians aren’t aware of the treatment options for neurological induced loss of vision. This blog post aims to change that and focus in on two complementary therapies that can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of daily life. Although no therapy is 100% effective as results vary from person to person, these two methods have had significant benefit to many patients suffering from vision loss due to stroke or brain injury.
You may have seen Saccadic Therapy mentioned in some of our previous blog posts. Saccadic therapy is targeted at patients who have suffered a vision disorder such as a homonymous hemianopia and have additional difficulties with eye movements. They appear to have smaller saccade amplitudes, exploring more of the sighted regions rather than the blind areas, have a larger number of fixations and a lower ability to integrate information between the left and right hand side of their vision. Therefore, they have difficulties in becoming aware of the events at the side of their visual field loss and in grasping a scene as a whole.
The primary goal of saccadic training is to improve visual search performance accompanied by more efficient oculomotor strategies, and to reduce visual disability as assessed by standardized questionnaires and behavioral measures. Benefits also include measures of improvements in navigation skills and object finding.
Saccadic training has historically taken place in either a rehabilitation center or clinic under direct physician supervision using high cost equipment, general programs that cover a range of conditions, or “pen and paper” techniques. This broad visual-search tasks approach to re-training a patient to make more efficient eye movements has been proven to be effective in most patients. NovaVision provides its internet-delivered, at-home computer based NeuroEyeCoach in a therapy suite with its complementary VRT vision restoration therapy as well as on it own.
Using NeuroEyeCoach, patients are trained to rapidly and continuously scan their surroundings in order to direct their gaze toward the blind field, bringing the previously unseen objects within their sighted field. The program re-trains a patient to move their eyes, re-integrate left and right vision and to make the most of their remaining visual field.
NovaVision’s Vision Restoration Therapy, has been designed to strengthen the visual information processing of residual neuronal structures that have survived following acute lesions of the nervous system resulting from trauma, stroke, inflammation, or elective surgery for removal of brain tumors. This type of therapy provides actual improvement in the range or sensitivity of the patient’s field of vision. NovaVision’s VRT uses repetitive light stimulation to activate impaired visual functions in areas of partial injury (“transition zones”), strengthening the residual vision and surrounding neuronal networks. The concept of repetitive stimulation has proven effective in the recovery of other functions such as movements of lower limbs after stroke.Vision Restoration Therapy
VRT is performed on a computer at home twice daily, six days a week for approximately six months. During each session, patients focus on a central point displayed on the screen and respond every time they see light stimuli that appear elsewhere on the screen. The light stimuli are typically presented along the border of the intact and damaged visual field called the “transition zone”. The therapy is monitored and updated monthly by NovaVision Clinical Staff as therapy progresses and vision is improved.
The VRT therapy program starts with a diagnostic evaluation of the patient’s vision to help NovaVision learn more about the patient’s visual needs and response patterns. During the diagnostic process a map of visual sensitivity is produced based on the frequency of detection at each point. In addition, the reaction time of the patient is recorded. NovaVision then uses this information to construct the most appropriate therapy for the patient. Future months of therapy are determined by the progress of the patient as they undergo their VRT schedule.
For more information on the VRT offered by NovaVision, you can review answers to our most frequently asked questions here.
If you are interested in knowing what our patients look like, or what results they experienced after using NovaVision’s therapies you can click here to listen to Carole’s amazing story in an interview she did on the Lucy Ann Lance Show, Carole’s story is just one of the amazing success stories from patients who have restored their vision using NovaVision’s VRT therapy.
VRT is provided by NovaVision in a therapy suite with its NeuroEyeCoach saccadic therapy. VRT addresses the restoration of lost vision while NeuroEyeCoach addresses patients' difficulties with eye movements and their ability to properly integrate visual information. While VRT helps to recover visual functions and enlarge the visual field, NeuroEyeCoach enables the patient to make the most of their remaining vision; the two therapies therefore complement each other and are provided in one therapy suite to maximize patient benefit.
Whether or not either of the therapy programs highlighted above suit your needs as a patient or the loved one of a patient, the most important takeaway is to explore every option during the course of your recovery and never give up hope. There are more options now than ever before for those suffering from vision loss after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Seek every possible solution along your road to recovery.