What happens when there is damage to the occipital lobe?


Quick Answer

Someone who encounters damage to the occipital lobe may have a hard time recognizing familiar objects, according to Merck Manuals. If both occipital lobes encounter damage, the patient will fail to see anything altogether, even if their eyes continue to function.

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Full Answer

The occipital lobe is the area of the brain that processes visual information, which arrives from the retina of the eyes. Cortical blindness is when someone experiences blindness as a result of occipital lobe damage on both sides. If damage arises as a result of a seizure, it may result in the patient experiencing hallucinations. In addition, damage to the occipital lobe can lead to involuntary eye movements.

One cause of damage to the occipital lobe is occipital lobe epilepsy, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. People who experience this condition present with the following symptoms:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Decreased vision or blindness
  • Seeing the same image repeated over and over
  • Eye pain, feeling eye movements or involuntary eye movements
  • Nystagmus, which involves the eye jerking from side to side
  • Eyelid fluttering

Another cause of occipital lobe damage is a posterior cerebral artery stroke, according to Medscape. Some of the complications include:

  • Being unable to recognize familiar objects
  • Loss of vision
  • An inability to recognize faces (prosopoagnosia)
  • Reading and color function disorders
  • Memory dysfunctions
  • Motor dysfunctions, which means difficulty controlling movements
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