Wernicke’s Encephalopathy: The Role of Vision Rehabilitation, and Related Considerations-A Case Report

Erik Romsdahl, OD

 Background: Wernicke’s encephalopathy acutely affects individuals due to thiamine deficiency. If not treated promptly, the patient will suffer neurological damage that will impair his memory, cognition, and overall psycho- logical state, known as Korsakoff’s psychosis or syndrome. Wernicke’s, in conjunction with Korsakoff’s psychosis, can have a devastating outcome, even leading to death. For those who survive, a myriad of long-term complications can result.

Case Report: A 54-year-old Caucasian woman with resolved Wernicke’s encephalopathy subsequent to alcohol abuse, presented with residual visual complaints that directly affected her quality of life. She was referred by a low vision specialist for a functional vision evaluation due to oculomotor disturbances and convergence insufficiency. Due to complicating factors related to Wernicke’s, vision rehabilitation was not possible.

Conclusion: This case serves as an example of the possible visual sequelae and ultimately the role vision rehabili- tation could have in the care of such patients. Despite the inability of the patient to follow through with the recom- mended course of vision rehabilitation, there is a strong case for the future role of such service.

Key Words

convergence insufficiency, malnutrition, nutrition oculomotor dysfunction, vision rehabilitation, Wernicke’s enceph- alopathy