(Alexia; Word Blindness; Text Blindness; Visual Aphasia)
Alexic anomia happens when you lose your ability to understand written words. You can no longer read and name words. This is a type of aphasia, which is a language disorder. It is caused by the brain not functioning correctly. This is a serious condition that may change over time, depending on the cause.
Stroke—Most Common Cause of Alexic Anomia
Alexic anomia is caused by damage to the language areas of the brain, for example:
Factors that may increase your risk of developing alexic anomia include:
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to alexic anomia. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have:
- Inability to read with understanding
- Ability to write, but not read what you have written
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological examination and tests may also be done to check brain function.
Your doctor may need pictures of your brain. This can be done with:
You may be referred to a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the nervous system.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Speech-language therapy—to help you use your ability to communicate, regain lost abilities, learn to make up for language problems, and learn other methods to communicate
- Counseling—to help you cope with your condition and help your family learn how to communicate with you
- Individualized rehabilitation program—to focus on what caused your condition
Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia. Follow these guidelines to help prevent stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit salt and fat in your diet.
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you drink, limit your intake.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin.
- Properly treat and control chronic conditions such as diabetes.
- If you have signs of a stroke, get help right away.
National Aphasia Association
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Brain Injury Association of Alberta
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Aphasia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 2, 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/aphasia/aphasia.htm. Updated July 9, 2012. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Cherny LR. Aphasia, alexia, and oral reading. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2004;11:22-36.
Freedman L, Selchen DH, et al. Posterior cortical dementia with alexia: neurobehavioural, MRI, and PET findings. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54;443-448.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.