Background: . Vision restoration therapy (VRT) to treat visual field defects used single-point visual stimulation in areas of residual vision up to now. The question arises if the efficiency of restoration can be increased when the entire region of blindness is trained by a visual stimulus aimed at activating extrastriate pathways (extrastriate VRT).
Methods: . In this crossover study, 18 patients with visual field defects with prior VRT experience were treated with 2 training paradigms. Group 1 (n = 8) first used extrastriate VRT followed by conventional standard VRT. Group 2 (n = 10) trained in reverse order. Visual field size was assessed with computer-based perimetry and subjective vision with the National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ).
Results: . In group 1, stimulus detection in high-resolution perimetry (HRP) improved by 5.9% (P < .01) after extrastriate VRT. After the second training period (standard VRT), detection further improved by 1.8% (P = .093). In group 2, detection performance improved after standard VRT by 2.9% (P < .05) and after extrastriate VRT by 2.9% (P < .05). Detection performance increased twice as much after extrastriate VRT (4.2%) than after standard VRT (2.4%; P < .05). All changes in fixation performance were unrelated to detection improvements. NEI-VFQ did not show any significant changes.
Conclusion: . Greater improvement after extrastriate VRT is interpreted as an activation of extrastriate pathways by massive "spiral-like" stimulation. These pathways bypass the damaged visual cortex, stimulating extrastriate cortical regions, and are thought to be involved in blindsight.