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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 cortical blindness often recommend a consistent home environment that allows a person with the condition to isolate and track a specific object.
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. Cortical 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 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.
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 cortical blindness 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.
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.
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 cortical blindness 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.
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