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What is it? 

A stroke happens when the supply of blood to your brain is disrupted, meaning it doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients it depends on. In some cases, blood vessels spontaneously burst, causing a haemorrhage or bleeding on the brain. In addition to the key physical issues associated with a stroke, one third of stroke victims have some form of vision loss.

Simulation image of how a stroke affects vision, image shows half the scene blacked out.
Simulation image of how a stroke affects vision, image shows half the scene blacked out.

  • Symptoms vary according to which part of the brain has lost blood supply, but can include issues with movement, speech, thought, communication and vision.
  • Issues with vision can include loss of side or peripheral vision, visual perception issues resulting in difficulties with spatial awareness, neglect, or object recognition and visual acuity resulting in blurred vision. It can also affect ocular nerves and muscles resulting in double vision and difficulties with eye movements. 

The Australian Stroke Foundation recommends using the acronym F.A.S.T. as a simple way to remember the most common signs of stroke:

  • Face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms. Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech. Is their speech slurred?
  • Time. This is critical – call 000 right away.

Early intervention is critical. If you think someone is having or has experienced a stroke, call 000 and seek urgent medical attention. The longer a stroke is left untreated, the greater the chance of brain damage.

There is no medical treatment to reverse the effects of a stroke, but drugs known as “clot busters” can be administered to break down a blood clot and help recover some loss of vision, though each case is different.

How it can affect your life

Your life after a stroke can be significantly affected depending on how your health has been impacted. A stroke could affect your movement, coordination, emotions, thinking or other things you may rely on. 

The effect on your vision may mean you have trouble reading, watching television or making out people’s faces. 

Other areas of your life – such as social activities, study or work – can also be impacted because getting from place to place is more difficult. It can also be harder to take care of yourself. 

A stroke can also make it more difficult to see in circumstances such as when there is significant glare.  

Becoming blind or being diagnosed with low vision following a stroke doesn’t mean you need to stop living life on your terms – and that’s where Vision Australia can help. 

We’ll work with you, providing support and products to help you take the next steps with confidence. 

Download a guide

Stroke guide

Fact sheet summary to print or download.