Today is letter “h” so I get to teach you about my favorite medical term to pronounce – homonymous hemianopsia (also known as homonymous hemianopia – without the “s”).
Homonymous hemianopsia is a condition involving loss of part of the visual field. To break it down, “homonymous” means “same side”. “Hemi-” means half. “Anopsia”means “defect in the visual field”. When you put it all together you have visual field defect on the same side of each half of the eye. The lack of peripheral sight of one side of both eyes becomes problematic in many instances.
As an example and from a clinical standpoint, an individual with homonymous hemianopsia could have have a visual defect within the right side of both eyes. The individual can’t see anything on their right side unless they move their entire head to utilize the left half of the eye. In other words, they “forget” about anything on the right. An individual with homonymous hemianopsia may be observed only eating food on the left side of their plate, completing neglecting the food on the right side of the plate. They may bump into walls that they don’t notice. Cutting vegetables with a knife in the right hand and the vegetable stabilized with the left hand becomes dangerous.
Occupational therapists can help individuals with homonymous hemianopsia by teaching them compensatory techniques. OTs can teach individuals with this visual field defect to turn their head/body to scan their entire environment.
Check out the picture below to get an understanding of homonymous hemianopsia. The picture on the left represents normal sight with no visual field deficits. The picture on the right represents an individual with right-sided homonymous hemianopsia. Do you see how this could be problematic?