Reading the Signs of Eye Damage

Scientists find that strokes cause reading difficulties

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists at the University of Liverpool recently found that strokes commonly cause impaired eye movement, causing reading difficulties in stroke patients.

Eye damage and visual impairment affect a majority of stroke victims. However, these eye problems can easily go undetected if the stroke patient is unable to recognize or report them, thus making it more difficult for doctors to assess and treat patients for eye problems.

Stroke can damage the eyes in a variety of ways including central vision loss, blindness in one or both eyes, and the inability for the brain to interpret images sent from the eye. 

The Liverpool scientists uncovered another common visual problem resulting from stroke: damage to the nerve supply that controls eye movement. Eye movement is crucial to following moving objects and reading. This finding highlights the importance of properly identifying vision problems as after-effects of stroke rather than symptoms of old age. According to Dr. Fiona Rowe from the University's Directorate of Orthoptics and Vision Science, "It is vital that health care services are aware of the different vision problems that stroke patients can face and have clear guidelines on identifying where the condition originates, whether it is in the eyes, brain, or the connecting pathways." 

It is important to identify these specific problems because vision impairment can impact much of the rehabilitation process, which can require much reading and moving around. 

"Quite often," says Dr. Rowe, "patients do not connect difficulties with reading with the after-effects of stroke and so they can be missed. It is important, therefore, that health workers ask the right questions of the patient in order to understand whether the condition is a result of a stroke or if the problem existed prior to this." In conclusion, Rowe says, "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."

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Review Date: 
December 1, 2010
Last Updated:
December 2, 2010