What Are the Treatments for Cortical Blindness?

Marlene Garcia

No specific treatment is available to reverse cortical blindness, but rehabilitation exercises might help stimulate vision in people with the neurological disorder. These exercises use objects with contrasting patterns, colors, and movement to promote recognition. Verbal and tactile clues might reinforce focus on a particular stimulus. Neurologists who treat this condition often recommend a consistent home environment that allows a person with the condition to isolate and track a specific object.

Some babies are born with cortical blindness.
Some babies are born with cortical blindness.

Many physicians prefer cortical vision impairment instead of cortical blindness to describe the disorder because the degree of impairment varies among patients. Some people suffering from this disorder might retain areas of vision, especially peripheral vision. This kind of blindness typically represents damage to the visual cortex in the brain that cannot be treated, but the term is often used to diagnose all types of brain damage that inhibit visual processing of information.

Cortical blindness may occur following brain surgery.
Cortical blindness may occur following brain surgery.

This condition is not an eye disease, and eye examinations of patients typically show no pathological defects. It is a brain disorder in the occipital lobe that controls processing of visual stimuli. Visual impairment might be total or partial, depending on the degree of damage to the cerebral cortex.

People with cortical blindness may become disoriented in large crowds of people.
People with cortical blindness may become disoriented in large crowds of people.

The condition might be caused by a head injury that affects the part of the brain that processes visual images. Some babies are born with this disorder, sparked by an infection while they develop in the womb. Infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis or encephalitis, might also lead to visual defects. Some patients develop the condition after brain surgery or stroke.

People with cortical blindness can become disoriented at amusement parks.
People with cortical blindness can become disoriented at amusement parks.

Children born with this condition typically suffer other neurological problems. Vision impairment commonly affects children born with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid collects in the brain. Youngsters with cerebral palsy and epilepsy might also experience brain dysfunction that leads to visual difficulties.

Cortical blindness is a disorder in the brain's occipital lobe.
Cortical blindness is a disorder in the brain's occipital lobe.

Research shows that vision might fluctuate in people with the disease. Some vision might be possible, but blind spots typically appear in a patient’s field of vision. People with cortical blindness usually do not make eye contact when communicating with others and might display poor hand-to-eye coordination. Pointing at an object sometimes helps a patient focus his or her concentration enough to identify the object.

A common symptom of the disorder involves negative reactions to rapid movement. Patients with this disorder typically become overly stimulated by fast-moving objects in the peripheral line of sight. They may become disoriented at amusement parks and other environments where light, color, and movement occur too quickly to process. Flashing lights and large crowds might cause similar reactions.

Individuals suffering from cortical blindness may experience fluxuating vision impairment.
Individuals suffering from cortical blindness may experience fluxuating vision impairment.

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