Damage to the nerve supply that controls eye movement is a common problem after a stroke, found a new study led by scientists at Liverpool.
Visual problems can affect up to two thirds of stroke patients, but can sometimes go undetected if patients do not recognize them as an after-effect of the condition or if they are unable to communicate the problem to their medical team or families.
Impaired eye movement can impact on the ability to follow a moving object or read words on a page.
Treatments include exercises to strengthen the eye muscles when looking at objects close to the face, as well as prisms that can be fitted to glasses to join double vision.
The research highlights the need for developing stricter assessment methods to ensure vision problems are detected and appropriately identified as the after-effects of stroke as opposed to a symptom of old age.
Other vision problems include central vision loss, a complete loss of vision in one or both eyes, and 'higher' visual processing problems, in which the image is formed by the eye and transmitted to the brain, but cannot be interpreted properly.
"If a stroke patient has vision problems it can impact on the rest of their rehabilitation in a variety of ways, including reading difficulties and moving around properly," said Fiona Rowe, from the University's Directorate of Orthoptics and Vision Science.
"Quite often patients do not connect difficulties with reading with the after-effects of stroke and so they can be missed. We hope this new research will increase awareness of vision problems in stroke patients and encourage those affected by the condition to consult medics with any difficulties they experience," added Fiona.
The research is published in the International Journal of Stroke in the New Year.