Restoration of vision by training of residual functions


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Abstract

A new paradigm emerges: visual field defects after optic nerve or brain injury are partially reversible. Using high-resolution visual field tests, areas of residual vision can be identified which are characterized by impaired vision (relative defect) with some residual capacities. By repetitively stimulating these partially damaged areas with daily computer-based visual restitution training it is now possible to enlarge the visual field. Average border shifts of 5° (range, 0 to 20°) have been found in clinical trials, and training is effective even when started years after the injury. Visual restitution training is useful for the treatment of patients with stroke, head injury, or partial optic nerve damage, as long as the patient presents some residual vision. The improved vision is maintained in most patients after training is discontinued. Brain plasticity is likely to provide the substrate for restoration of vision, opening new opportunities to treat partial blindness, which has been considered irreversible.

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