What hemianopia is, how it affects vision, recommendations for students with hemianopia.

Hemianopia means the loss of vision in half of the visual field in one or both eyes. 

The fault lies in the pathway between the eye and the brain and may be caused by a variety of medical conditions which damage the optic nerves.

Hemianopia is described as left or right, depending on which side of the vision is lost.

Symptoms may include:

  • loss of sight to one side, which may not be recognised by the affected person
  • loss of visual awareness
  • inability to read, especially if the loss is to the right side
  • bumping into furniture and so on, to one side only

How hemianopia affects vision

Residual vision is often unaffected, although not always. 

Students can usually: 

  • read normal sized print
  • distinguish detail for both near and distance

The field of vision is the main area to be affected. 

When reading, a left hemianopia is restrictive because our script reads from left to right. A student with left hemianopia may miss out a line of text while reading because at the end of the line the eyes have to move back onto the restricted field to begin the next line. 

A right hemianopia may slow a reader’s speed and cause inaccuracies because the student cannot see all the script and scan backwards and forwards. 

A student with hemianopia will often turn their head to the one side to maximize their field of vision.

Recommendations for students with hemianopia

Students may need:

  • their own reading materials and worksheets rather than shared copies
  • to hold their book at a particular angle in order to bring the page into their field of vision
  • to turn their head to one side to maximize vision: a student with left hemianopia is best seated to the left of the room when facing front, a student with a right hemianopia is best seated to the right
  • additional time to study objects and displays around the room
  • to be made aware of safety issues especially in games, science and technology or when in an unfamiliar or busy place
  • staff to be aware of safety issues relating to reduced visual fields during practical lessons

Useful websites:
The Royal National Institute of Blind People hemianopia information
Henshaws page on hemianopia

Contact us
Sensory Support Service
Elmfield House
Greystoke Avenue
Westbury-on-Trym
BS10 6AY

Phone: 0117 903 8442
Text: 07810 506 669
Email: sensorysupportservice@bristol.gov.uk