Health Alert: getting back sight in stroke victims

NATIONAL (NBC) - There's new hope for those who have suffered a stroke or brain injury. A new cutting-edge therapy can help survivors regain their lost eye-sight, without drugs or surgery.

It's called Nova Vision, and it's a new type of vision restoration therapy that can re-train the brain and improve vision for some who have suffered a stroke or brain injury.
Survivors of a stroke or brain injury can have therapy to help them learn how to speak or move their muscles again. But what if the part of the brain that affects their vision is damaged?

Until recently, there wasn't much they could do. Until Nova Vision.

Dr. Lotfi Merabet, an opthamologist at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, says "by stimulating the remaining parts of the brain that are still active is the potential of re-wiring the brain so function can be maintained."

The Nova Vision program can be used in a lab or in a patient's home on their computer.

Patients focus on spots of light or fixation points. When there's a change on the screen like the spots change color or move, a click of the mouse is all it takes to let the program know they noticed the change.

Dr. Merabet says "the idea behind this specific treatment for vision is to try to show little spots of light in the part of the visual field that borders the seeing and non-seeing part of the visual field. The idea is can you excite the remaining brain cells in order to activate the brain and try to regain the vision that's actually missing in that part."

Exercises are done twice a day, five to six days a week. Patients can see improvements in their vision as early as three months into the treatment.

Dr. Merabet says "it's non-invasive, there's no surgery, there's no medication involved. This is the opportunity for an individual to really gain some functionality of their vision and improve their quality of life."
Each program is designed specifically for each patients needs.

Even though many patients have had success with the Nova Vision treatment, it's getting mixed reviews in the medical community.

Posted by Logan Smith