Receptive Aphasia

(Wernicke Aphasia; Alexia; Alexic Anomia; Word Blindness; Text Blindness; Visual Aphasia)

Pronounced: Re-cepp-tiv Ah-fay-gee-ah


Receptive aphasia is a language disorder that makes it hard for a person to understand spoken or written language. This fact sheet focuses on alexic anomia. Alexic anomia happens when the ability to understand written words is lost. A person can no longer read and name words.

Stroke—Most Common Cause of Alexic Anomia

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Alexic anomia is caused by an injury to the brain. Stroke is the most common cause. Some other causes are:

Risk Factors

Alexic anomia is more common in older adults. It is also more common in people who have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke.


A person with alexic anomia:

  • Cannot understand written words
  • Can write, but cannot read what someone has written


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Speech language, and communication tests may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. You may also need to see a doctor who treats the nervous system.

Other tests may be done to find the cause of the alexic anomia.


The cause of alexic anomia will need to be treated.

Speech and language therapy will also be needed to:

  • Restore lost skills
  • Learn how to use existing skills
  • Learn other ways to communicate


There are no guidelines to prevent alexic anomia. It is caused by underlying health problems.


National Aphasia Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


The Aphasia Institute
Brain Injury Association of Alberta


Aphasia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated October 1, 2019. Accessed April 15, 2020.
Cherny LR. Aphasia, alexia, and oral reading. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2004;11:22-36.
Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD