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What is visual perception?

We use information from our eyes to determine the size, shape and position of the objects we see. Our brain uses this to work out how far away they are from us and where they are in relation to other things. This is called visual or spatial perception. 

Signs of visual perception problems

If a stroke affects your visual perception you may not be able to:

  • Judge depths or distances, so you may not know how close you are to something, or when a cup is almost full or how high a step is. This can make getting around difficult, especially when you go up and down stairs or through doorways
  • Tell the difference between foreground and background, so you may not be able to spot a white plate on a white table, for example, or see the item you’re looking for in a cluttered drawer
  • Interact with objects very easily, like putting a lid back on a jar or putting food on a fork and then into your mouth.
  • Follow terms like ‘in front of’ or ‘inside’, so if someone tells you that the sugar is behind the teabags, you may not know where you need to look. 

What can I do about visual perception problems?

Usually visual perception problems will be picked up by your doctors or therapists whilst you’re in hospital or by your community team when you’re back at home.

If they haven’t been, and you start to notice that you may be having problems, then go back to your GP to get them properly diagnosed and assessed.

If these problems are making day-to-day life difficult for you, then you need to be referred to an occupational therapist. They will work with you to find ways to help you cope with them. They will also be able to suggest aids and equipment that can help you.

Find out more about getting help with memory and thinking problems after stroke

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