General Management Goals

Some causes of visual loss, such as optic neuritis, tend to resolve spontaneously. Others due to compressive lesions and pituitary adenomas, for instance, have a good prognosis once the mass is removed surgically. Unfortunately, many of the vascular, hereditary, and degenerative causes of visual dysfunction have a poor prognosis for improvement.

Low vision aids may be helpful in some of these cases. In people with poor visual acuity, magnifiers can help them to read newspapers or other printed material. Closed circuit televisions, which enlarge written material without the distortion lenses may produce, are becoming popular for this purpose as well.

Patients with dense homonymous hemianopias can be offered prism therapy, but only a minority of them find it beneficial. A 30- to 45-diopter base-out Fresnel press-on prism is placed on the temporal half of an eyeglass ipsilateral to the hemianopia. This device projects images in the blind half of vision into the good half. The patients who like the prism therapy are those who use the prism to notice novel objects in their blind field; they then turn their head in that direction to use their good field to see the objects more clearly. Unfortunately, most individuals find this process too confusing and the result is suboptimal. It certainly does not improve their vision to the point at which they can drive. Base-out prism therapy should be attempted only in individuals who have normal mentation and in whom the hemianopia is isolated.

Experimental vestibular stimulation (by cold water, for instance) may have some efficacy in patients with visual neglect. We have no personal experience with this technique, however.

We have found that visual occupational therapy and rehabilitation is relatively unhelpful. Little proof exists that visual training after injury makes any difference in the speed or amount of visual recovery.


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