Treatment for blindness successful in largest ever study

A new treatment has been found to be successful in improving the vision of partially blind patients.

Funded by NovaVision, Inc., and led by Professor Arash Sahraie from the School of Psychology, the study is the largest study of its kind to evaluate this new programme of treatment which is aimed at those with sight loss following brain injury. 

In collaboration with University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and NovaVision, Inc., researchers found that the NeuroEyeCoach programme for rehabilitation of blindness after stroke, or other brain injury improved vision in over 80% of patients. 

Published in the scientific journal Cortex, the study involved almost 300 patients, the largest number of patients to participate in a study like this.

Professor Sahraie explains: “Blindness after brain injury is common and its effect on patient’s daily life is sudden. Those affected have great difficulty finding their way around and avoiding obstacles. This therapy is designed to help this group of patients.

 “We found that following treatment, patients’ ability to detect and avoid obstacles improved, they are also seeing things much faster and also state that the therapy improved their activities of daily life”

Findings showed that improvements were not dependent on age, gender, side of blindness, nor the time elapsed since the brain injury. Also, fundamentally, the team found there was no upper age limit to the success of the treatment – their results showed that the treatment improved vision even in 90-year-old patients.

This is the first time that a treatment of this kind has been shown to be effective in both old as well as young adults.

Professor Sahraie explains: “Our results show that rehabilitation of vision loss after brain injury is possible and can drastically improve patients’ quality of life. 

“A fundamental finding is that no matter how old the patients were, or when they had their vision loss, if they had problems coping with everyday tasks like getting about or finding objects, the therapy would help them to get better. 

“So, it is never too late, or patients are never too old to benefit from rehabilitation therapy. “The large scale of this study has provided answers to important questions. We have found that there is no limit to the success of the treatment in terms of age, time since injury or gender.  This is extremely encouraging and we hope will be of benefit to the tens of thousands of people who live with blindness after brain injury.”