Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Her vision is 20/20, but she can't make sense of what she sees

Date:
September 10, 2012
Source:
Loyola University Health System
Summary:
A new article describes Balint's Syndrome, a rare and baffling neurological disorder.

It was a quiet Thursday afternoon when AS, a 68-year-old woman from a suburb of Chicago, awakened from a nap to the realization that something was terribly wrong.

Thus begins a Loyola University Medical Center paper on a rare and baffling neurological disorder called Balint's syndrome, which badly impairs a patient's ability to make sense of what he or she sees.

The article describes, in novelistic detail, the difficult adjustments two patients have had to make in their lives. The article is published in the Sept. 11, 2012, issue of Neurologyฎ, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The paper was written by Jose Biller, MD, Murray Flaster, MD, and first author Jason Cuomo. Biller and Flaster are neurologists and Cuomo is a fourth-year medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The authors note that amid the rigors of clinical practice, physicians can content themselves with understanding the phenomenon of disease to the exclusion of understanding the patient's experience. Their article "is an attempt to inform both our clinical and subjective understandings of Balint's syndrome through narratives of two patients suffering from this rare and unique neurological disorder."

Balint's syndrome is named after Austro-Hungarian neurologist Rezső Bแlint, who first described it. The condition is caused by one or more strokes in certain regions of the brain. It causes three deficits: Difficulty initiating voluntary eye movements (such as following a physician's finger); inaccurate arm pointing (a patient can see an object, but is unable to pick it up); and constriction of the visual field (ask a patient to look at a parking lot, and all she sees is a lamp post or a car.)

When AS woke from her nap, she couldn't find where doors or cabinets were. She couldn't name or distinguish familiar household objects. She couldn't read a book or the numbers on her telephone. She couldn't see where the bedroom wall ended and the door began. Yet when she saw an ophthalmologist, her vision with glasses was 20/20. She and her husband left the ophthalmologist's office with a referral to see a neurologist, and "wondering what sort of ailment could rob her of her ability to see the bathroom sink, while leaving her with what we typically think of as perfect vision."

The second patient, JD, was a robust, hard-working owner of a trucking business. While driving to his son's house for Thanksgiving, he began to swerve. And at Thanksgiving dinner, he held the spoon upside down. He then experienced left-sided weakness and facial drooping, before losing consciousness. Doctors believe he had suffered a massive stroke, followed by a series of mini strokes.

AD has made many adjustments. For example, while getting ready in the morning, she must touch the sink at all times to remain oriented. While showering, she has to keep her hand on the shower bar. Before brushing her teeth, she puts the toothpaste directly in her mouth, then moves the toothbrush by trial and error to meet it. She has stopped driving. And because she can no longer read, she listens to audio books.

JD has suffered depression, a first for him. "He never once cried before," his wife said, "but now he cries often."

AD said she would not wish Balint's syndrome on anyone, "because not only is this a life-change, it's a mind change."

AD hopes her story will motivate physicians to seek better treatments and therapies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Cuomo, M. Flaster, J. Biller. Right Brain: A descriptive account of two patients' experience with and adaptations to Balint syndrome. Neurology, 2012; 79 (11): e95 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182698d28

Cite This Page:

Loyola University Health System. "Her vision is 20/20, but she can't make sense of what she sees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910161157.htm>.
Loyola University Health System. (2012, September 10). Her vision is 20/20, but she can't make sense of what she sees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910161157.htm
Loyola University Health System. "Her vision is 20/20, but she can't make sense of what she sees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120910161157.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins