Rehabilitation of cortically induced visual field loss

Curr Opin Neurol. 2021 Feb 1;34(1):67-74. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000884.


Purpose of review: Homonymous visual field defects are a common sequela of stroke, and are assumed to be permanent within a few weeks of the event. Because consensus about the efficacy of rehabilitation is lacking, visual therapy is rarely prescribed. Here, we review current rehabilitation options and strategies in the translational pipeline that could change these perspectives.

Recent findings: The mainstays of available therapy for homonymous visual defects are compensation training and substitution, which allow patients to better use their spared vision. However, early clinical studies suggest that vision can partially recover following intensive training inside the blind field. Research into the relative efficacy of different restorative approaches continues, providing insights into neurophysiologic substrates of recovery and its limitations. This, in turn, has led to new work examining the possible benefits of earlier intervention, advanced training procedures, noninvasive brain stimulation, and pharmacological adjuvants, all of which remain to be vetted through properly powered, randomized, clinical trials.

Summary: Research has uncovered substantial visual plasticity after occipital strokes, suggesting that rehabilitative strategies for this condition should be more aggressive. For maximal benefit, poststroke vision-restorative interventions should begin early, and in parallel with strategies that optimize everyday use of an expanding field of view.

Trial registration: NCT02737930.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation* / methods
  • Stroke Rehabilitation* / trends
  • Vision Disorders / etiology*
  • Vision Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology

Associated data