Published: Monday 16 November 2015

Visual problems after stroke can be complicated. They can be poorly described by patients, particularly where they have communication and cognitive problems after their stroke too.

Published online today in Ophthalmology Research: An International Journal, a new review of the research examines types of visual problems experienced after stroke, and patient recovery. 

The work was led by Dr Fiona Rowe, Reader in Health Services Research at the University of Liverpool. It was funded by the Stroke Association and Thomas Pocklington Trust.

The aim of the review was to:

  •  determine how often visual problems occur after stroke (known as the 'incidence' of visual problems after stroke)
  • determine the proportion of stroke survivors affected by visual problems after their stroke (known as the 'prevalence')
  • document the rate and extent of recovery by patients.

The review found that none of the 61 studies included had investigated the incidence of visual problems after stroke (how often visual problems occur after stroke).  

It also found that the current literature provides a range of estimates for the prevalence of visual problems after stroke (the proportion of stroke survivors affected by visual problems after their stroke).  Overall, the review estimated the prevalance to be 65% (ranging across studies from 19% to 92%).

Looking at specific visual problems after stroke, the review found that the reports of prevalence and recovery from visual field loss, eye movement (ocular motility) problems, visual inattention, and reduced central vision, varied widely among studies included.

It suggests that more prospective studies are required in this area of research. These studies follow a group of people over time, and could be used to establish the incidence of visual problems after stroke,  better understand the prevalence of visual problems at different points in time after stroke, and therefore determine their rate of recovery.

Dr Fiona Rowe is Reader in Health Services Research at the University of Liverpool. Find out more about her research by visiting her webpage.

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