#ThrowbackThursday, research from May 1, 2009:
After stroke, brain learns to see again

Once thought irreversible, vision loss sometimes associated with stroke may be treatable. By doing a set of vigorous visual exercises on a computer every day for several months, patients who had gone partially blind as a result of suffering a stroke were able to regain some vision.

Such rigorous visual retraining is not common for people who suffer blindness after a stroke. That’s in contrast to other consequences of stroke, such as speech or movement difficulties, where rehabilitation is common and successful.

“We were very surprised when we saw the results from our first patients,” says Krystel Huxlin, the neuroscientist and associate professor who led the study of seven patients at the University of Rochester’s Eye Institute. “This is a type of brain damage that clinicians and scientists have long believed you simply can’t recover from. It’s devastating, and patients are usually sent home to somehow deal with it the best they can.”

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Funding to support the work came from Research to Prevent Blindness, the Pfeiffer Foundation, the Schmitt Foundation, and the National Eye Institute.