Most people know what a traumatic brain injury is, even if they don’t know it by that term. They are injuries caused by some type of trauma to the brain, be it an accident or something like a stroke. What most may not know is that there is a close link between these types of injuries and vision issues.
While the link between traumatic brain injury and vision problems is, unfortunately, overlooked too often, such injuries can lead to several noticeable vision problems. These problems are caused by the injury disrupting the communication between the eyes and brain.
In fact, more than 90% of the 2.8 million Americans who suffer a traumatic brain injury every year will experience some form of visual dysfunction, though at times those problems won’t manifest immediately after the injury, making them harder to spot.
Vision problems following a traumatic brain injury can be diagnosed by your optometrist or ophthalmologist, following a comprehensive eye exam. If one of your other healthcare providers notices an issue, they may refer you for the exam and treatment.
Someone with a vision problem stemming from a traumatic brain injury may not be aware that they are indeed suffering from a problem caused by their injury. However, there are several signs to watch for that can indicate a problem.
Blurred Vision: This can be constant or intermittent blurriness, and can extend to having difficulty focusing on objects.
Double Vision: This is caused by a deficiency in eye teaming, their ability to work together. Double vision can range in severity.
Decreased Peripheral Vision: An issue also termed visual field loss, this can entail either a partial or complete loss of peripheral vision. Someone suffering from this problem may find themself bumping into objects, being struck by things they couldn’t see, or falling often
Difficulty Focusing the Eyes or Controlling Eye Movement: Brain injury can impact the ability to properly control eye movement and focusing. This can lead to a number of problems, from fatigue to eye strain to increased difficulty performing tasks which require precise eye movement.
Loss of Vision in One or Both Eyes: Vision loss due to brain injury can be partial or complete, and may or may not be reversible.
Eye Strain: If there is a mechanical problem with eye function due to injury, the patient may experience eye strain which can cause headaches and make it harder to focus on tasks.
Sensitivity to Light: Also known as photophobia, this condition renders one extra sensitive to light. In particular, the condition can be at its worst when looking at light sources such as fluorescent lights, bright sunlight, and LCD screens.
Difficulty Focusing on Tasks: If the eyes aren’t functioning properly, it can become difficult for the patient to remain focused on tasks for extended periods of time.
Motion Sensitivity: The damage to the eyes and brain can impact how the body processes motion. This can lead to issues like vertigo or feeling of discomfort while doing things like scrolling on a digital device, traveling, or performing activities in busy environments.
Visual Memory Loss: Visual memory loss is when the patient loses some of their ability to remember visual information which is stored in either the long or short-term visual memory. This can lead to decreased reading comprehension, and difficulty recalling words, numbers, where an object was left, or other previously viewed data.
Headaches or Eye Pain: This can come in the form of a range of headaches or a stabbing pain around the eyes. Often accompanied by redness, itching, or burning of the eyes.
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation has been shown to be very effective in helping patients recover from vision problems caused by traumatic brain injuries. Optometrists who specialize in this field are trained to properly diagnose, treat, and oversee rehabilitation from neurological conditions which affect the visual system.
Following an evaluation to determine the precise nature of your issues, the optometrist will formulate a personalized treatment program designed to alleviate the problems and help restore your quality of life to what it was prior to the injury. The treatments help retrain your visual system to overcome the problems caused by the injury.
Vision issues are a common occurrence following a traumatic brain injury, coming in numerous forms, and these issues can have a major impact on daily life. If you are experiencing a vision issue following a traumatic brain injury, contact us to schedule an evaluation.