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Visual field loss:

A common problem that can affect your sight after a stroke is loss of part or whole sections of your visual field. Visual field is the term used to describe the entire area that you can see when your eyes are fixed in one position. It refers to everything you can see in the periphery (side) of your vision as well as what you can see looking directly at something (central vision).

Hemianopia is where there is a loss of one half of your visual field. This may mean that you’re not able to see to either the left or right from the centre of your field of vision in both eyes. If you have a stroke to one side of your brain, you may develop field loss to the opposite side. For example, if the right side of your brain has been affected by the stroke, the left side vision in each eye may be affected.

Although hemianopia does not affect all of your vision, it can still cause problems with day to day living such as locating things, coping with traffic on the street, or being disoriented in crowded environments such as supermarkets.

Reading can also be a very frustrating experience with hemianopia as words and sentences disappear when in the missing visual field. Sometimes using a marker at the end of the sentence or a Post-it Note to indicate where the end of the line is can be helpful. A typoscope (a piece of card with a rectangle box cut out) or a bar magnifier (a long thin magnifier with a guideline on it) can be helpful by making it easier to focus on a line of text at a time. It may also be helpful to tilt the text and read it vertically.

Sometimes with hemianopia you may not be aware that you’re unable to see from a part of your visual field. You can be taught scanning techniques (eye movement patterns) in the direction of the hemianopia in order to compensate.

Scanning exercises are easy to do and can be done in different ways. You can practice scanning by keeping your head still and moving your eyes around the room to your affected side of vision. You could also use puzzles and word search games in books or on computers and tablet screens to improve your visual perception and visual-tracking skills. There are free scanning training programs on the internet which can be helpful:

Unfortunately for many people, especially those with visual field loss, sight loss may be permanent.

What is a vitreous hemorrhage? A vitreous hemorrhage occurs when blood gets into the vitreous. The vitreous is a gel-like structure that fills the back of the eye. The blood blocks light rays from reaching the retina in back of the eye. If the eye is like a camera, the retina is the thin layer of “film” that lines the back of the eye. It captures images that pass through the front of the eye and then sends them to the brain. When light cannot reach the retina, your vision may be poor. Signs of vitreous hemorrhage include blurred vision or seeing dark spots or floaters. Often, you may see a streak of dye rise or fall slowly, and then spread to fill the eye. If the hemorrhage is very dense, your vision may be blocked completely. In this case, you will only be able to see light and dark.

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