Vision Loss After a Stroke
Imagine being a mother of two teenage daughters living on a farm. Think of how self-reliant you need to be, attending the house, the horses and the farmland. Whenever you leave the farm you need a car, whether for shopping or taking your daughters to the doctor.
And then one day, in your mid-40s a stroke takes away your independence. Even though you physically recover, vision loss leaves you with limited abilities and driving is out of the question.
Referral to a Low Vision Optometrist
This happened to the sister of an ophthalmologist, who had done everything an eye surgeon could help. Being a caring brother, he then referred her to a low vision optometrist and this is how she arrived at the practice of Dr. Jacobi.
“She was just beside herself,” said Dr. Jacobi, looking back. The woman was suffering from visual field loss as a result of the damage the stroke had done to the left side of her brain. She could only see one half of her visual field even though she was looking straight ahead.
The tricky part is, people with vision loss usually do not realize that they are missing part of their visual field. As a result, they have difficulty moving around without bumping into doorways and objects, or even people. Routine tasks, such as eating become challenging, as these people may not see half of their plates.
How Can You Drive If You Have Vision Loss?
For this lady, the most devastating impact of her vision loss was that she could no longer drive. “We made some very special glasses to address the fact that she couldn’t see to her left. [With these glasses] we shifted all the visual field. We gave most of it back to her - enough so she could drive,” said Dr. Jacobi.
Dr. Jacobi describes side vision awareness glasses, specifically designed for people who lost one side of their visual field, which often happens after a stroke. Side vision awareness glasses expand their visual field, enabling them to see on both sides. With the expanded field of vision, people regain confidence in navigating around and function independently.
Regaining and Maintaining Independence With Vision Loss
On route to regain independence and confidence, Dr. Jacobi suggested that she try her new glasses while riding her lawnmower before she got into her car. For a few months, she then roamed around the farm on her lawnmower, practicing driving with the new glasses and becoming aware of her side vision again.
Fifteen years have passed since then, and she is still successfully driving her car with the help of side vision awareness glasses every day. She also regularly mows the lawn.
If an eye doctor tells you there is nothing more he/she can do, consult Dr. John Jacobi, OD, FCOVD, member of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS) and owner of Suburban Eye Care. There may be a special kind of glasses to help you regain and maintain your independence despite vision loss.