More than half of acute stroke survivors develop problems with their vision, according to recent research from the University of Liverpool. The researchers involved in the study advocate for early and frequent visual assessment for those who’ve experienced acute stroke.

The investigators looked over the records of a multicenter stroke unit and reviewed the assessments of visual acuity, visual fields, ocular alignment, ocular motility, visual inattention and visual perception. Excluding pre-existing eye problems, the incidence of new-onset visual sequelae was 48% for all stroke admissions and 60% in stroke survivors. Of the total, 56% walked away from their stroke experience with impaired central vision, 40% with eye movement abnormalities, 28% with visual field loss, 27% with visual inattention and 5% with visual perception disorders. Only 27% had normal eyes following the stroke. The researchers characterized the prevalence of vision problems following stroke as “alarmingly high.”

Early vision screening should be obtained within 72 hours, but for those unable to be assessed, the researchers say the patient should be assessed within one week of stroke onset. “It is important to detect visual problems, regardless of whether it is pre-existent or of new onset, and disseminate the functional consequences and impact of this to patients,” the study concludes.

Rowe F, Hepworth L, Howard C, et al. High incidence and prevalence of visual problems after acute stroke: An epidemiology study with implications for service delivery. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(3):e0213035.