Researchers in Liverpool determined the incidence and prevalence of visual problems in acute stroke is alarmingly high, affecting more than half of survivors. The study suggests that the 60% incidence of visual problems for all stroke survivors should be considered as an absolute minimum and potentially represents an underestimate.

The prospective study found that 73% of 1,033 stroke survivor patients had visual problems. The breakdown of problems was as follows: 56% with impaired central vision, 40% with eye movement abnormalities, 28% with visual field loss, 27% with visual inattention and 5% had visual perceptual disorders. For most, visual screening and full visual assessment was achieved within about five days of stroke onset.

The incidence of new-onset visual sequelae was 48% for all stroke admissions and 60% in stroke survivors. The prevalence or incidence of visual problems varied by age but was proportional to age at onset of stroke—i.e., increasing rates of visual problems corresponded with increasing age. Most strokes happened between ages 60 and 89; most cases of visual problems were also seen in these age groups.

Researchers propose that accurate information about incidence of visual sequelae and early visual assessment is important when considering the needs of stroke survivors and developing services for appropriate and adequate patient care.

Rowe FJ, Hepworth LR, Howard C, et al. High incidence and prevalence of visual problems after acute stroke: an epidemiology study with implications for service delivery. PLoS One. March 6, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].