Pilot trial to compare prism therapy and visual search training, for homonymous hemianopia, to standard care (information only).
Visual field defects after posterior cerebral artery stroke can be improved by vision restoration training (VRT), but when combined with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which alters brain excitability, vision recovery can be potentiated in the chronic stage. To date the combination of VRT and tDCS has not been evaluated in post-acute stroke rehabilitation.
To determine whether combined tDCS and VRT can be effectively implemented in the early recovery phase following a stroke, we wished to explore the feasibility, safety and efficacy of an early intervention.
Open-label pilot study including a case series of seven tDCS/VRT versus a convenience sample of seven control patients (clinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT02935413).
Patients with homonymous visual field defects following a posterior cerebral artery stroke.
Seven homonymous hemianopia patients were prospectively treated with 10 sessions of combined tDCS (2mA, 10 daily sessions of 20 min) and VRT at 66 (±50) days on average post-stroke. Visual field recovery was compared with retrospective data of 7 controls, whose defect sizes and age of lesions were matched to the experimental subjects and who had received standard rehabilitation with compensatory eye movement and exploration training.
All seven patients of the treatment group completed the treatment protocol. Safety and acceptance were excellent, and patients reported occasional skin itching beneath the electrodes as the only minor side effect. Irrespective of their treatment, both groups (treatment and control) showed improved visual fields as documented by an increased mean sensitivity threshold in dB (decibel) in standard static perimetry. Recovery was significantly greater (p<.05) in tDCS/VRT patients (36.73 ± 37.0%) than in controls (10.74 ± 8.86).
In this open-label pilot study, tDCS/VRT in sub-acute stroke was safe, with excellent applicability and acceptance of the treatment. Preliminary effectiveness calculations show that tDCS/VRT may be superior to standard vision training procedures. A confirmatory, larger-sample, controlled, randomized and double-blind trial is now underway to compare real- vs. sham-tDCS supported visual field training in the early vision rehabilitation phase.
Pilot trial to compare prism therapy and visual search training, for homonymous hemianopia, to standard care (information only).
Prospective, multicentre, parallel, single-blind, three-arm RCT across fifteen UK acute stroke units.
Stroke survivors with homonymous hemianopia.
Arm a (Fresnel prisms) for minimum 2 hours, 5 days per week over 6 weeks. Arm b (visual search training) for minimum 30 minutes, 5 days per week over 6 weeks. Arm c (standard care—information only).
Adult stroke survivors (>18 years), stable hemianopia, visual acuity better than 0.5 logMAR, refractive error within ±5 dioptres, ability to read/understand English and provide consent.
Primary outcomes were change in visual field area from baseline to 26 weeks and calculation of sample size for a definitive trial. Secondary measures included Rivermead Mobility Index, Visual Function Questionnaire 25/10, Nottingham Extended Activities of Daily Living, Euro Qual, Short Form-12 questionnaires and Radner reading ability. Measures were post-randomization at baseline and 6, 12 and 26 weeks.
Randomization block lists stratified by site and partial/complete hemianopia.
Allocations disclosed to patients. Primary outcome assessor blind to treatment allocation.
Eighty-seven patients were recruited: 27—Fresnel prisms, 30—visual search training and 30—standard care; 69% male; mean age 69 years (SD 12). At 26 weeks, full results for 24, 24 and 22 patients, respectively, were compared to baseline. Sample size calculation for a definitive trial determined as 269 participants per arm for a 200 degree2 visual field area change at 90% power. Non-significant relative change in area of visual field was 5%, 8% and 3.5%, respectively, for the three groups. Visual Function Questionnaire responses improved significantly from baseline to 26 weeks with visual search training (60 [SD 19] to 68.4 [SD 20]) compared to Fresnel prisms (68.5 [SD 16.4] to 68.2 [18.4]: 7% difference) and standard care (63.7 [SD 19.4] to 59.8 [SD 22.7]: 10% difference), P=.05. Related adverse events were common with Fresnel prisms (69.2%; typically headaches).
No significant change occurred for area of visual field area across arms over follow-up. Visual search training had significant improvement in vision-related quality of life. Prism therapy produced adverse events in 69%. Visual search training results warrant further investigation.
Source: A pilot randomized controlled trial comparing effectiveness of prism glasses, visual search training and standard care in hemianopia – Rowe – 2016 – Acta Neurologica Scandinavica – Wiley Online Library
The most common visual defect to follow a lesion of the retrochiasmal pathways is homonymous hemianopia (HH), whereby, in each eye, patients are blind to the contralesional visual field. From a behavioral perspective, in addition to exhibiting a severe deficit in their contralesional visual field, hemianopic patients can also present implicit residual capacities, now usually referred to collectively as blindsight. It was recently demonstrated that HH patients can also suffer from a subtle deficit in their ipsilesional visual field, called sightblindness (the reverse case of blindsight). Furthermore, the nature of the visual deficit in the contralesional and ipsilesional visual fields, as well as the pattern of functional reorganization in the occipital lobe of HH patients after stroke, all appear to depend on the lesion side. In addition to their contralesional and ipsilesional visual deficits, and to their residual capacities, HH patients can also experience visual hallucinations in their blind field, the physiopathological mechanisms of which remain poorly understood. Herein we review blindsight in terms of its better-known aspects as well as its less-studied clinical signs such as sightblindness, hemispheric specialization and visual hallucinations. We also discuss the implications of recent experimental findings for rehabilitation of visual field defects in hemianopic patients.
Background and purpose Vision problems after cerebral infarction are an increasingly acknowledged problem. Our aim was to investigate the effect on quality of life and post-stroke disability.
Methods Patients admitted to the Stroke Unit, Department of Neurology, Haukeland University Hospital, between February 2006 and July 2008 with acute cerebral infarction were prospectively registered in the NORSTROKE Registry. Patients received a postal questionnaire at least 6 months after stroke. The questionnaire included 15D©, EuroQol 5D (EQ-5D™), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and the Barthel Index (BI).
Results Of 328 responders, 83 (25.4%) reported a vision problem. Vision problems were associated with older age (71.8 years vs. 66.5 years, P = 0.001), higher National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score on admission (5.9 vs. 3.8, P < 0.001), higher modified Rankin Scale day 7 (2.0 vs. 1.4, P < 0.001) and lower BI day 7 (85.7 vs. 93.9, P = 0.002). Patients with vision problems had lower median EQ-5D utility score (0.62 vs. 0.80, P < 0.001), lower median 15D utility score (0.73 vs. 0.89, P < 0.001), higher median HADS score (12 vs. 5, P < 0.001), higher median FSS score (5.6 vs. 4.3, P < 0.001) and lower median BI (95 vs. 100, P < 0.001) on long-term follow-up. Patients with self-reported vision problems scored lower on all sub-scores of BI on follow-up (all P < 0.001).
Conclusion One in four patients reported a vision problem on follow-up after cerebral infarction. Vision problems after cerebral infarction reduce quality of life and are associated with increased disability. Thorough diagnostic evaluation and targeted rehabilitation is important.
Occipital stroke often leads to visual field loss, for which no effective treatment exists. Little is known about the potential of non-invasive electric current stimulation to ameliorate visual functions in patients suffering from unilateral occipital stroke. One reason is the traditional thinking that visual field loss after brain lesions is permanent. Since evidence is available documenting vision restoration by means of vision training or non-invasive electric current stimulation future studies should also consider investigating recovery processes after visual cortical strokes. Here, protocols of repetitive transorbital alternating current stimulation (rtACS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are presented and the European consortium for restoration of vision (REVIS) is introduced. Within the consortium different stimulation approaches will be applied to patients with unilateral occipital strokes resulting in homonymous hemianopic visual field defects. One goal is to evaluate effects of the stimulation on vision parameters, vision-related quality of life, and physiological parameters that allow conclude about the mechanisms of vision restoration as induced by electrical current stimulation. These include EEG-spectra and coherence measures, and visual evoked potentials. The design of stimulation protocols involves an appropriate sham-stimulation condition and sufficient follow-up periods to test whether the effects are stable.
This is the first application of non-invasive current stimulation for vision rehabilitation in stroke-related visual field deficits. Positive results of the trials could have far-reaching implications for clinical practice. The ability of non-invasive electrical current brain stimulation to modulate the activity of neuronal networks may have implications for stroke rehabilitation also in the visual domain.
What Is Hemianopia?
Hemianopia is a blindness or reduction in vision in one half of the visual field due to damage of the optic pathways in the brain. This damage can result from acquired brain injuries caused by stroke, tumor or trauma.
Stroke occurs when there is damage to a group of nerve cells in the brain often due to interrupted blood flow, caused by a blood clot or blood vessel leaking. Depending on the area of the brain that is damaged, a stroke can result in coma, paralysis of one side of the body, speech and vision problems, and dementia.
What Are the Different Types of Hemianopia?
The most common defect, right homonymous hemianopia, occurs in corresponding halves of the right field of vision. It can also occur in corresponding halves of the left field of vision (left homonymous hemianopia), in the upper half of the field (superior hemianopia), the lower half (inferior hemianopia), or both outer halves of the field (bitemporal hemianopia). In hemianopia, half of the field is blanked out on both eyes.
Whoever may be at risk for stroke is also at risk for hemianopia. People with high blood pressure or those with an abnormal heart rhythm, which is associated with blood clots in the heart, may be at risk for stroke.
Age is also a risk factor, as the majority of people who experience stroke are over the age of 55.
What You Can Do to Reduce Risk
Reducing the risk of stroke will reduce the risk of hemianopia. For more information on how to reduce your stroke risk, visit the National Stroke Association.
Though there is no specific medical or surgical treatment for hemianopia, one’s effective use of vision may improve over time. In addition, there are optical devices that may be helpful in increasing the field of vision. Some examples include field-expanding prism lenses and magnifiers.
Following diagnosis of hemianopia, it is also important to receive a careful evaluation by a low vision specialist who can prescribe optical prism glasses and other devices, as well as recommend vision rehabilitation services. Vision rehabilitation specialists can teach people with hemianopia to maximize their existing sight by increasing lighting or using adaptive devices, for example.
Background: Homonymous visual field defects (HVFD) are common after postchiasmatic acquired brain injury and may have a significant impact on independent living and participation in society. Vision-related difficulties experienced in daily life are usually assessed using questionnaires. The current study 1) links the content of 3 of these questionnaires to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and 2) provides analyses of vision-related difficulties reported by patients with HVFD and minimal comorbidities.
Methods: Fifty-four patients with homonymous hemianopia or quadrantanopia were asked about difficulties experienced in daily life because of their HVFD. This was performed during a structured interview including 3 standardized questionnaires: National Eye Institute Visual Functioning Questionnaire, Independent Mobility Questionnaire, and Cerebral Visual Disorders Questionnaire. The reported difficulties were linked to the ICF according to the ICF linking rules. Main outcome measures were presence or absence of experienced difficulties.
Results: The ICF linking procedure resulted in a classification table that can be used in future studies of vision-related difficulties. Besides well-known difficulties related to reading, orientation, and mobility, a high proportion of patients with HVFD reported problems that previously have not been documented in the literature, such as impaired light sensitivity, color vision, and perception of depth.
Conclusions: A systematic inventory of difficulties experienced in daily life by patients with HVFD was performed using the ICF. These findings have implications for future study, assessment and rehabilitation of patients with HVFD.
In patients with brain damage, often the hemianopic field defect is not diagnosed, because other neurological symptoms, such as hemiplegia, are predominant. The mean time between the brain damage and the diagnosis of the hemianopia was found to be 3 +/- 2 months (Zhang et al 2006). Additionally, the patients oft en do not realize the fi eld defect, even though they experience activity limitations in their everyday life. The classification of the World Health Organizati on (WHO 2004) for Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) includes three main aspects, which have to be considered in visual impairment:
Homonymous field defects cause two main disabilities/ activity limitations:
Stroke is the most common cause of homonymous hemianopia (HH) in adults, followed by trauma and tumors. Associated signs and symptoms, as well as visual field characteristics such as location and congruity, can help determine the location of the causative brain lesion.
HH can have a significant effect on quality of life, including problems with driving, reading, or navigation. This can result in decreased independence, inability to enjoy leisure activities, and injuries. Understanding these restrictions, as well as the management options, can aid in making the best use of remaining vision.
Treatment options include prismatic correction to expand the remaining visual field, compensatory training to improve visual search abilities, and vision restoration therapy to improve the vision itself. Spontaneous recovery can occur within the first months. However, because spontaneous recovery does not always occur, methods of reducing visual disability play an important role in the rehabilitation of patients with HH.