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UK researchers call for all stroke survivors to be screened for potential visual impairment

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All stroke survivors require screening for visual impairment, according to UK researchers who have examined the wide range of sight problems developed by such patients.

Their new study, published in the journal Brain and Behaviour, looked at 915 post-stroke patients with an average age of 69 from 20 NHS hospital trusts.

“All stroke survivors require early screening for visual impairment”

Fiona Rowe

The researchers, from the University of Liverpool, found just 18% had a normal visual assessment, while 92% had a confirmed sight impairment.

Of those found to have an impairment, 24% had reduced central visual acuity, 16% had acquired strabismus and 68% had acquired ocular motility disorders.

Meanwhile, peripheral visual field loss was present in 52%, most commonly homonymous hemianopia, said the researchers.

In addition, 15% had visual inattention and 4.6% had other visual perceptual disorders.

Visual inattention, causing patients to ignore everything on one side of their visual world, usually affects people who have had a right sided stroke and they ignore things on their left side.

Overall, 84% were visually symptomatic, with visual field loss the most common complaint followed by blurred vision, reading difficulty, and diplopia.

Treatment options were provided to all with confirmed visual impairment, said the researchers. Targeted advice was most commonly provided along with refraction, prisms, and occlusion.

They also found that the average number of days post-stroke onset before a visual assessment was conducted was 22.

Lead study author Dr Fiona Rowe said: “There are a wide range of visual disorders that occur following stroke and, frequently, with visual symptoms.

“There are equally a wide variety of treatment options available for these individuals,” said Dr Rowe.

“Our research highlights the fact that all stroke survivors require early screening for visual impairment and warrant referral for specialist assessment and targeted treatment specific to the type of visual impairment,” she added.

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