Hemianopia or hemianopsia terminology is derived from the Greek origin and can be broken in the following way to understand it more easily:
- Hemi means half
- An means without
- Opia means sight or seeing
This term is well known in the specialty of ophthalmology and neurology. This article will highlight the all essential information about hemianopia so let’s begin.
Introduction to Hemianopia:
Hemianopia is a medical disorder characterized by partial blindness or loss of sight in half of your visual field. It may be permanent or temporary and it depends on the cause. The medical definition of hemianopia states that hemianopia is blindness in one-half of the visual field of one or both eyes.
In general, we can say that hemianopia is a condition in which half of the visual field is either completely or partially diminished due to any head trauma, stroke, or tumor.
Types of Hemianopia:
Hemianopia is distinguished into three main types with two subcategories under it. These types are well elaborated as follows
1. Homonymous Hemianopia:
This type is associated with loss of vision on the same sides of both eyes. It depends on the side of the brain that is affected by injury or surgery. Determining the Reduced vision by means of an instrument helps the doctor to find out the accurate area of the brain where injury or stroke has occurred.
2. Heteronymous Hemianopia :
This type is associated with loss of vision in different fields of the eyes. It is further divided into subcategories
- Binasal hemianopia: It is associated with vision loss in field of vision that lie closest to the nose.
- Bitemporal hemianopia: It is associated with loss of vision that occurs on eyes’ side closest to the temple .
It is characterized by loss of vision in one quadrant or portion of the visual field and totally depends on the area of the brain that’s damaged. The part of the eye that is linked with the damaged area of the brain will suffer either complete or partial hemianopia.
- Superior hemianopia: It is associated with loss of vision in the upper visual field of either left or right eye or both.
- Inferior hemianopia: It is associated with loss of vision in the lower visual field of either left eye or right eye or both.
Symptoms of Hemianopia:
The most common and prominent symptom of hemianopia is to lose half of the visual field in one or both eyes. Other symptoms associated with hemianopia are :
- Dual vision
- Blurry vision
- Unfocused vision
- Distorted sight
- Dimmed vision
- Reduced night vision
- Visual hallucination
In addition to the physical discomfort and symptoms, there are a few emotional, psychological and cognitive, and social consequences also. Patients become so frustrated and due to loss of visual field become dependent on others. Their social activities and movement become restricted and they start to avoid social gatherings. Some factors also accompany hemianopia like
- Mounting irritation
Patients with hemianopia face so many problems with reduced vision that it feels practically impossible to move in crowded places.
Causes of Hemianopia:
Hemianopia can be caused by any damage to the optic nerve or brain. The common cause of hemianopia are as follows:
- Brain tumors
- Brain injuries due to trauma
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- High pressure in the brain
- Shake baby syndrome
The three most common causes of hemianopia are brain injuries, brain traumas, and stroke. These three causes are further elaborated as follows
Brain injuries and trauma due to accidents or sports injuries such as blunt force trauma can cause damage to certain parts of the brain. Thes brain damage may accumulate for a long period of time and cause hemianopia in older age or maybe even earlier.
Brain injuries may also cause the growth of lesions on the brain over an extended period of time that can cause hemianopia. The occurrence of hemianopia based on brain injuries may be late in older age or even earlier, based on the frequency and severity of the injury.
Brain tumors exhibit the same effect as brain injuries when tumors begin to grow and spread. Brain tumors cause damage and pressure that directly leads to hemianopia in one or both eyes.
Strokes occur due to an insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart. This insufficiency of oxygen to the heart is the result of many factors like coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis. Heart stroke causes other ailments to include hemianopia.
Hemianopia can be diagnosed by an eye doctor or ophthalmologist with the help of the following diagnostic procedures
- Visual field exam: It helps to evaluate the focus of the eye on specific objects.
- Imaging tests: It helps the doctor to have a look at the back of your eye.
- Short bursts of air: It helps to determine the pressure within the eye.
- Complete blood count test (CBC): It helps to diagnose any brain damage.
Treatment of hemianopia is highly dependent upon the underlying causes. Hemianopia caused due to head injury or stroke may recover itself after a few months or more. People who face blurred vision or other vision problems due to Hemianopia because of a brain tumor may recover vision after the shrinkage or removal of the tumor.
In some exceptional cases, hemianopia can never be cured or resolved completely. In such circumstances, it can be managed by taking the following steps to improve the vision
- Using prismatic correction glasses to aids the double vision
- Go for vision restoration therapy to improve vision.
- Learn to use your remaining vision more efficiently by getting vision compensatory training.
Life with Hemianopia:
Life with hemianopia is really too difficult and complicated if it remains untreated. It changes the whole pattern of individuals’ life having a physical, psychological, and social impact on it. An individual with hemianopia may face the following challenges in his life:
- Concentration and focus become too much difficult with low vision or loss of visual field in one of more eye
- Independency of a person is highly interrupted and it seems difficult to move in with a social circle with impaired vision
- People need the presence of a care-taker to move safely and this condition sometimes make them feel like a burden on their family and friends
The complication of life with hemianopia cannot be denied but it is not the end of the debate. The appropriate management and treatment help to resume daily life activities. Therapies and techniques help to make the life of patients easier and manageable to decrease dependency on other people.
Hemianopia is an eye disease that is characterized by visual impairment due to loss of visual field in one or both eyes.
It possesses many diagnostic signs and features. Its main causes are brain tumors, head injuries, and stroke. Treatment and management help to improve quality of life and improve vision to decrease the dependency of patients on other people.
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