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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Eyesight hope for stroke victims
Patient wired to cardiac testing equipment
Thousands of stroke victims suffer vision problems as a result
Scientists in Aberdeen have unveiled a breakthrough which they say could help the vision of thousands of people recovering from a stroke.

Until now it was thought little could be done for the resulting eye condition, cortical blindness, which can leave victims struggling to read.

However, scientists have been stimulating the surviving nerves.

Now findings, after eight years of research, show several patients partially regaining impaired sight.

About 55,000 people across Europe suffer partial loss of vision every year following a stroke.

You can get physiotherapy and speech therapy after brain damage so why not rehabilitation for the sight?
Dr Arash Sahraie
Aberdeen University

Cortical blindness is caused by loss or injury to the visual pathways in the brain.

There can be some limited recovery for stroke sufferers with visual defects within the first few weeks after stroke, but the remaining problems after this initial period are permanent.

The Aberdeen research claims to demonstrate that a medical device developed for stimulation of the blind field - the area of vision where there has been sight loss - shows potential for such patients.

'Very excited'

A computer system containing visual stimuli which flash on a screen was installed in the homes of 12 stroke sufferers with partial sight loss.

Each patient was asked to repeatedly perform a series of tasks over a three-month period, which involved pressing buttons when they detected the flickering.

By the end of the trial all 12 showed increased visual sensitivity within their blind field.

Dr Arash Sahraie, a reader in visual neuroscience in the university's school of psychology who led the research, said: "You can get physiotherapy and speech therapy after brain damage so why not rehabilitation for the sight?

"We are very excited about this finding. It could give hope to the thousands of patients who have suffered sight loss following brain damage and are told on a daily basis that nothing can be done.

"We are already finding that patients report that they can navigate more easily around their home or feel more confident when they are crossing the road.

"Obviously these are very encouraging findings and we need to do a lot more research with many more patients, but if we can help regain visual capability in the blind field it could have real benefits for people in this situation."

Stroke hope over ultrasound use
17 Nov 04 |  Scotland

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