A stroke can occur not only in the brain but in the eye too. Medically referred to as “Retinal Vascular occlusion”, an eye stroke is caused when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the eye is blocked, thereby leading to loss of vision. Nearly 16 million people in the world may suffer from eye stroke currently.
Apart from this, one-quarter of the survivors after a brain stroke suffer from vision loss, according to the U.S. National Stroke Association. Luckily with vision therapy exercises partial or complete restoration of vision is possible.
How is eye stroke caused?
If the artery or vein in the eye is blocked with a blood clot, then blood supply to that part of the eye is cut off. This blockage may cause the leakage of fluids to that area causing swelling and obstructing the vision. This block may be in the artery or a vein and is hence termed commonly as “Vascular occlusion”. Depending upon where the block is, this occlusion may be
- Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)- if the central Retinal Artery is blocked
- Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion(BRAO)- if a branch or minor artery is blocked.
- Central Retinal Vein Occlusion(CRVO) – if the central Retinal Vein is blocked
- Branch Vein Occlusion(BRVO)- if a branch or smaller vein is blocked.
Undertaking timely vision therapy exercises after recognizing the symptoms of an eye stroke can help prevent total loss of vision in patients.
Eye stroke symptoms
- Pain or pressure in the eye
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Loss of peripheral vision or side vision
- Grey spots called floaters floating in the eye.
- Gradual or sudden loss of vision.
Risk of eye stroke
Eye stroke is common in the patients who are affected by
- Age-above 45
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Narrowing of the neck or carotid artery
- Rare blood disorders.
Eye exercises for stroke patients
Patients suffering from brain or eye stroke can undertake these vision therapy exercises to
- Regular Pencil Exercise
- Hold a pencil at least 18″ from your face at eye level.
- Move it from L-R without moving your head.
- Returning to the centre, move it up and down.
- Next from the centre, bring it closer to your nose or move it away.
- Stay focussed and do this 10-15 times without moving your head.
- Do these regularly and watch your vision improve.
- Assisted Pencil Exercise
You need the help of a friend or caregiver for this vision exercise.
- Ask your friend to hold 2 pencils on either side of your face.
- Look straight ahead and ensure that you see both pencils in your side vision.
- Now ask your friend to move one pencil close to you and the other pencil away from you.
- Without moving your head, say which one is closer.
- Letter Search
- Ask your friend to write out letters in a line
- Now choose the one you are asked to.
- Drawing objects
- Ask your friend to draw one half of an object.
- Try completing the other half.
- Computer games
Computer games like “Luminosity” or “Eye can learn” help in improving peripheral vision and eyesight.
- Apps that help to improve vision
Stroke Patients can download these apps on a tablet or mobile to improve their vision.
- Vision Tap– enhances eye-hand coordination, reduces reaction time and improves reading
- Hoppy’s Vision training– improves ye movement, binocular function and eye coordination.
- Eye Movement Training– improves eye mobility and tracking.
- Eye Training Visual Edition- improves the field of vision while enhancing visual analysis, co-coordination and memory.
Stroke support programs and stroke rehabilitation centres should spread awareness of eye stroke and suggest vision exercises for stroke patients.