Hemi-Hell: My Husband's Struggle
By Dottie Mack (Paul's wife of over 48 years)

Left Homonymous Hemianopsia and Left Hemispatial Inattention

Paul Mack had eye problems for 20 years (cataracts removed from both eyes, hemorrhaging and retinal detachment. He had no reason to believe that this clouding of his vision was the result of stroke. Brain scans revealed Paul had suffered several cerebrovascular accidents (strokes) in the right occipital region of the brain which resulted in loss of vision in the left field of both of his eyes. The neurologist said that the damage was permanent and did not recommend any therapy. More and more, Paul withdrew from most social activities and fought to regain his life.

Paul struggled with this crippling eye problem for almost three years without knowing that therapy was available. Finally a new ophthalmologist tested Paul and referred him to Dr. Windsor at the  Vision Rehabilitation Center in Fort Wayne. Dr. Windsor is a low vision specialist, who has worked and lectured extensively on the rehabilitation of patients with visual field loss.

Four hours of testing revealed that Paul suffered from a hemianopsia, a loss the left visual field but also a problem called visual spatial neglect, which meant that Paul was not acknowledging the left side of his body. When he ate, he ignored his left hand and the food on the left side of his plate. He could hold only one utensil at a time. He could read and watch television, but bumped into things right in front of him. The side vision test revealed that he had not regained any of his lost vision.

Dr. Windsor fit Paul with a press-on prismatic visual field enhancement system. He prescribed scanning therapies that Paul could do at home. Therapy and the view expander were the keys to Paul's success in coping with this crippling condition. The scanning exercises were Paul's daily chore. Three to five times a day he would perform the required exercises and evaluations.

Social life improved for Paul. He felt more confident to go out for dinner at restaurants (no longer spilling his coffee or water) and visiting friends and relatives at their homes (no longer knocking over their decorative tables and knick knacks). He was now able to hold both his knife and fork with each hand at the same time.

Therapy continues as Paul revisits the Vision Rehabilitation Center for instruction and re-testing. Learning to use the view expander has opened prospects of getting a ping-pong table (which Dr. Windsor recommends for regaining greater eye movements and reaction time.)

by Dottie Mack