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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 Haga clic AQUÍ para solicitar una cita 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?

female lookingOften 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
  • Eyestrain
  • 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.

two friends talkingHow 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.

Our practice serves patients from Houston, Bunkerhill Village, Bellaire, and Sugarland, Texas and surrounding communities.

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Sensitivity to Light Following a Brain Injury

If you find yourself to be more sensitive to light following a concussion, it could be related to your head injury. That’s especially true if you’ve been experiencing other post-concussion symptoms like eye strain, blurry vision and double vision.

Fortunately, neuro-optometric rehabilitation can effectively alleviate concussion-related light sensitivity (photophobia) and other TBI symptoms.

Symptoms of Light Sensitivity After a Concussion

While light sensitivity is a common problem after a head injury, sometimes it can be hard to recognize, as it often overlaps with other symptoms related to brain injury.

The most common symptoms of post-concussion light sensitivity include:

  • Inability to tolerate bright light
  • Discomfort from interior lighting or computer screens
  • Eye pain
  • Eyestrain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches

Additional post-concussion symptoms may include:

  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Cognitive fatigue
  • Difficulty multitasking

While these symptoms are not necessarily caused directly by light sensitivity, they often go hand-in-hand. In addition, your brain may be using extra energy to process bright light after a brain injury, limiting the energy it has left for other activities.

Causes of Light Sensitivity After Head Injury

Following a TBI, photophobia tends to occur as a result of damage to a specific part of the brain called the thalamus.

The thalamus filters incoming visual information and sends neural signals to different parts of the brain. After a brain injury, the blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the thalamus can become damaged and withhold vital oxygen and nutrients to this part of the brain.

If the thalamus is not filtering the incoming light correctly, your brain may become overwhelmed with too much visual information. This is why many concussion patients prefer dark rooms that present less visual stimulation.

Note that light sensitivity can also develop as a result of damage to any of the following:

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The ANS governs most of your body’s autonomic processes, such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, pupil dilation and more. If an injury disrupts your ANS, your pupils may dilate more than usual, allowing too much light to enter the eye, leading to light sensitivity.

Superior Colliculus

The superior colliculus is the part of the brain that keeps you oriented in space and has some control over your eye muscles. It has the potential to make a person’s vision more sensitive if it malfunctions.

Vestibular System

The brain uses three systems: the inner ear vestibular system, the sense of touch and the sense of sight. These help people determine and understand where they are relative to the things around them.

If your vestibular system is not operating correctly, your brain receives conflicting information from the vestibular and visual systems. To compensate, your brain may increase its sensitivity to the visual system, which can result in light sensitivity.

Following a brain injury, a person will usually have a combination of these problems. Fortunately, they can be treated.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Can Help

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a customized treatment program for patients who have visual deficits due to physical disabilities and TBIs. Neuro-optometric rehab aims to strengthen any reduced visual skills so that the patient can continue engaging in daily activities, like reading and driving, and enjoy a higher quality of life.

A neuro-optometric rehabilitation optometrist evaluates many functions of the visual system, such as how the eyes work together as a team. Treatment options may include using filters and prisms, and customized visual exercises to strengthen the eye-brain connection. To determine if you can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation, schedule a functional vision evaluation with today.

Our practice serves patients from Houston, Bunkerhill Village, Bellaire, and Sugarland, Texas and surrounding communities.