A brand new visual assessment tool is now being developed and tested to help stroke units better assess visual problems in stroke patients. This miraculous tool will reportedly require absolutely no visual experts and no new training for the stroke unit staff to operate.
The team behind this new assessment tool is from the UK's prestigious University of Liverpool. This assessment tool is currently being tested all around the UK's stroke units as a part of a pilot study program. Researchers are going to look through the data collected from this trial to gauge the efficacy of their new technology. As of today, the team estimates this first trial will be carried out sometime in 2017.
Fiona Rowe, the head health researcher at the University of Liverpool, hopes that this new technology will help patients have a clearer and more accurate portrait of their eye health after a stroke. Rowe told reporters that many of the current strategies used to test for someone's eye health post-stroke are not reliable. Also, these tests only check for a relatively small number of possible visual impairments.
This brand new assessment tool is designed to help staff members check for a wider variety of visual impairments than current technologies are able to do. Dr. Rowe believes that this tool will be able to provide more accurate results than ever before. Rowe especially wants these devices to screen less false positives and false negatives.
The reason why researchers are so concerned with screening a stroke patient's vision right away is because stroke victims often suffer grave visual impairments post-stroke. Many estimates show that two out of three stroke survivors develop severe visual impairments after their episode. Many will carry these visual difficulties with them for the rest of their lives, and they will only get more severe if left untreated right at the start. Also, and perhaps most frightening for patients, it is estimated that right now over half of all stroke units do not check a patient's eyesight.
Of course, visual impairment can lead to many other complications in a person's life after suffering a stroke. Visual loss has been linked to an increased suicide risk, depression, and anxiety. This is why it is so crucial for all stroke units to have the ability to screen a patient's eyes quickly and efficiently.
Even though this new tool may help stroke survivors a great deal in the future, the researchers in this study still say that this tool is no replacement for a real doctor. Every stroke survivor should see an optometrist after their stroke regardless of what the machine tells them. Only a qualified optometrist can truly detect any visual impairment caused by a stroke.
In addition to this tool being tested by the University of Liverpool, a team of Scottish researchers is also testing a new assessment tool. Hopefully, with both the reports from Liverpool and Scotland, this exciting technology will soon be implemented in stroke centers around the world.