Can stroke affect your vision? Read Shaun's story.

Older woman getting her eyes checked by a machine

August signals Stroke Awareness, so it is timely to discuss how a stroke can affect a person’s vision.

Vision problems following a stroke are quite common. The effects of a stroke on vision depends on what part of your brain is affected or starved of oxygen and nutrients. As seeing involves not only your eyes but the brain as well, stroke-related vision problems can be very complex to understand and treat.

Some stroke survivors may not have loss of vision as such, some do, but they may lose the ability to translate what the eyes are seeing into language. This results in what we refer to as Print Disability; the inability to understand what they are reading or seeing.

Others may have reduced vision because of a stroke or brain injury. Where vision loss has occurred most patients in both groups report that the most useful aid is ‘Text to Speech’, a device that can capture an image of text and read it out aloud to you.

Text can be a page of text in a book, magazine or newspaper, from a packet of food in your pantry, from your computer or mobile phone. There are a number of Text to Speech aids from handheld to tabletop depending on individual needs, including OrCam Read, OrCam MyEye, ClearReader+ and Read and Write software for your computer. Your qualified Quantum consultant can organise a demonstration of these devices to help you determine the best option for your specific requirements.

Shaun's story of his strokes, as told by his wife Lauren

Shaun in wheelchair at Rehab Unit holding balloons

Shaun was only 38 when he suffered the first of many strokes, which ultimately rendered him blind. His wife Lauren shares their story to raise awareness of the many signs of stroke. It is a story of determination courage and hope.

“My husband Shaun was only 38 when he suffered his first of many strokes on October 5th, 2020. A proud, loving and active dad of two young children, Shaun had never had any health issues prior to his strokes.

In the week leading up to Shaun’s first stroke, he’d had a virus that we presumed he’d caught from the kids, as they were always bringing home coughs and colds from day-care. He shrugged it off and kept about our normal routine, until the weekend when he started to complain of a severe headache and blurry spots in one eye.

The pain wasn’t easing with normal paracetamol so we thought a trip to the ER would be a good idea. On admission, they did a CT scan which did not show anything suspicious, and so he was treated as though he had a migraine headache and was discharged.

Eating dinner that night he started suffering bad pains in his neck and jaw, but we decided we would see how he was in the morning and go from there.

Shaun woke up blind in his right eye the following morning. We presented back to the ER and were then quickly sent to another hospital as they thought Shaun was suffering an optical condition. He was admitted to a new hospital for new tests. We learnt that Shaun had suffered an embolic shower, a pulmonary embolism and that his 2 major arteries in his neck supplying blood to his brain were 100% and 75% blocked with clots.

Two days later, a code stroke was called as Shaun could not lift his left arm. Two weeks after this, Shaun lost sight in his other eye and suffered full right sided paralysis and aphasia.

Shaun in hispital bed with his family

We were told to prepare for the worst. He was in a very critical condition and the prognosis for his vision was poor.

After six weeks Shaun commenced rehabilitation, which was gruelling but worthwhile. Shaun began to walk and talk and regain function again. However, not long after Christmas, he suffered another stroke in rehab.

His speech was affected and he suffered with facial droop and right sided neglect. We went back to the acute stroke ward for another 2 weeks, before finishing out rehab and starting therapy at home. After a total of 5 months in the hospital, the final diagnosis for Shaun’s strokes was a presumed autoimmune condition that triggered a clotting storm in his body.

image of man walking with a cane

8 months on, Shaun, although blind, has defied the odds. He is a walking, talking miracle and is learning to walk using a cane. The brain is amazing at re-wiring itself. He still has sensation issues in his right arm, so is learning to do everything left-handed. Aphasia can still make holding a conversation a little tricky. I am sharing our story as we want everyone to be aware that the different signs and symptoms of stroke might not be the most common.”