Study launches to improve sight after stroke

14 October 21

written by:

Anna Riley

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Imagine the loss of independence from not being able to read, drive or navigate unfamiliar environments, from one day to the next.

This is exactly what happens in 20-30% of stroke survivors who develop hemianopia, where patients lose the ability to see on the right or left side of their vision.

Now, Fight for Sight is funding research at the University of Nottingham to help stroke survivors recover some functional vision. By identifying and carefully analysing the damage caused by stroke, the researchers are hoping to guide better approaches to recovery. 

Red areas: parts of the brain in the hemisphere affected by stroke that respond to visual stimulation

Aim of the study

In the UK, approximately 150,000 people a year have a stroke. Sight loss after stroke is caused by injury to the parts of the brain that process visual information.

The team of researchers, led by Dr Denis Schluppeck, are using a combination of brain imaging, eye tracking, and visual assessments to map out the part of the brain (and connections between them) that are amenable to recovery.

The team are using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to capture the detailed anatomy and responses in the brain, to see how healthy and affected parts respond to visual prompts over time, even when stroke survivors report not seeing them. 

They then hope to train those networks with targeted stimuli, to eventually generate vision in the damaged region of the brain.

“Finding interventions that improve the functional ability of people with visual field deficits after stroke is a high priority. Ultimately, our aim is to take a personalised approach to improve vision after stroke. By retraining spared brain networks, the hope is that stroke survivors can improve on everyday visual tasks, like reading.”

– Dr Denis Schluppeck

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