Common Vision Problems Associated With a Brain Injury
Some 2.8 million Americans suffer a form of TBI every year, which is close to 1 in every 100 people.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) disrupts the normal functioning of the brain due to a strike or jolt to the head. This can cause vision problems, such as blurred or double vision, and difficulty with eye movements, focus, and tracking. This can result in headaches, dizziness and nausea— especially when someone who has suffered a TBI needs to retain focus on a fixed point or task. Over 10 million TBIs occur annually around the world and around 57 million people have been hospitalized for a TBI at some point in their lives.
Studies show that over 90% of Traumatic Brain Injury patients suffer some form of visual dysfunction, yet vision problems tend to be overlooked during the initial treatment of a brain injury. At times, vision problems don’t manifest until some time has passed— so make sure to pay close attention to any vision changes you may experience following a concussion or head trauma. If you notice any alterations in your vision, contact right away. The eye doctor will determine the causes of the vision change and will provide the appropriate vision therapy treatment.
What Kind of Vision Problems Result From a Brain Injury?
Often the affected person with a TBI is not aware of their specific vision dysfunction but might complain of one or more of the signs below:
Traumatic Brain Injuries tend to interrupt the communication between the eyes and the brain, which can cause a range of visual dysfunctions. The signs often include:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Reading difficulties
- Attention and concentration difficulties
Below is a more detailed list of the common vision problems that can result from brain injury or a medical condition, such as a stroke, tumor, aneurysm, meningitis, cerebral palsy, and other neurological insults.
- Visual Acuity – Blurry vision, either all the time or can shift in and out of focus.
- Eye focusing – Inability to quickly change focus from near to far objects.
- Eye teaming – The eyes not working in tandem, potentially causing double vision.
- Eye movements – Difficulty following a moving object or losing one’s place while reading.
- Motion sensitivity – The disruption of the connection between vision integration and balance system which makes it difficult to process motion properly. This can cause vertigo or unease when traveling, scrolling a digital device, or when in busy environments such as grocery stores, social settings, or sporting events.
- Visual Field Loss – The partial or complete loss of peripheral vision. Visual field loss may cause one to bump into objects, be struck by approaching objects, or experience frequent falls.
- Visual Memory Loss – Losing the ability to recall or remember visual information stored in long or short-term visual memory. This can have a devastating impact on daily functioning as the individual no longer recalls numbers, words, pictures, or any data viewed in the past. Reading comprehension decreases, and the ability to recognize locations and faces declines. One may not remember where a specific object—such as a car key—was put or how to give directions.
- Headaches or Eye Pain – Following head trauma, the individual may experience a range of headaches or even a stabbing pain around the eye — at times accompanied by redness, burning, or itching of the eyes
- Sensitivity to Light – In the aftermath of a brain injury, one can develop sensitivity to light and be unable to tolerate glare. Also known as photophobia, sensitivity to light can be exacerbated by particular light sources, such as bright sunlight and fluorescent lighting. LCD screens, used for computers or smartphone devices, can be particularly intolerable after a concussion.
How Can Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometry Help You Recover From a Brain Injury?
People of all ages who develop visual dysfunction due to a neurological trauma or injury can benefit from a vision assessment by a Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometrist (neuro-optometrist). These eye care professionals are highly trained in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of neurological conditions that affect the visual system, as well as perceptual and motor disorders. Research studies show that patients having undergone a vision rehabilitation program can vastly improve their quality of life.
An interdisciplinary rehabilitation team is essential for patients with concussions, strokes or other neurological deficits. In addition to optometrists, team members may include nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, physical medicine doctors, neurologists, neuropsychologists, audiologists, and ophthalmologists, among others.
The regularly assists patients in retraining their visual system to overcome symptoms and visual conditions caused by brain injury. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or conditions, please reach out to us.