A head injury can affect your eyes, and Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute would like to help you learn more about concussions and vision problems. Whether it happens from a soccer or football game, bump, auto accident or other trauma, a brain injury that is traumatic can affect your vision as well as cause other problems. You might have trouble reading screens and books, or things may be jumping up and down; all of these are symptoms of the eyes not working together.
According to the CDC, TBI, traumatic brain injury or concussion, accounted for more than 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits and 282,000 hospitalizations in the year 2013. Falls are a common source of TBI as well as sports and recreation-related injuries, so ages can vary from teens to those over 60. Motor vehicle crashes are also a common factor in concussion incidents, so brain trauma affects all ages.
If you are the parent of a child or teen who plays sports or is very active, you will want to read on further to learn more about how a concussion can affect their vision.
As stated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, concussion care must include the eyes:
“A parallel paradigm has emerged with a concussion,” said Dr. Balcer, at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. “We’ve learned that vision is an important—and intricate—piece of neurological disorders. Ophthalmology plays a crucial role, not only for the sideline identification of concussion but also in concussion rehabilitation and research.”
Symptoms of a Concussion
There are cognitive symptoms that are the result of a concussion. These may include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty thinking
- Attention deficits
- Mood swings
According to All About Vision, among the common vision symptoms that show up in someone who has had a TBI are the following:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Reading difficulties
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Double vision
- Eye movement difficulties
Post concussion syndrome blurred vision can occur when the alignment of the eyes diverges while trying to focus on nearby objects. Moreover, it can result in other physiological or cognitive complications. These include poor balance, dizziness, eyestrain, and difficulty reading or concentrating.
The above problems are due to an interruption in the vital communication between the brain and the eyes. Often vision problems are overlooked in the initial treatment and diagnosis of a concussion; you may not discover your vision problems until some time after the diagnosis of a TBI.
According to the Concussion Project, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of the patients that suffer a concussion also have some visual issues that can result in double vision, headaches, eye headaches, blurred vision or eye strain. Students may exhibit decreased comprehension in reading as well as a decreased reading speed.
If you notice changes in vision following a concussion, you should consult with an eye care professional with special expertise in TBI-related vision problems. Your first step would be a routine eye exam at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute. The type of physician who treats vision problems from a concussion is a Neuro-optometrist and a Neuro-ophthalmologist. It is also vital to determine that no other issues, such as retinal detachment or traumatic uveitis have resulted from the head injury.
A Neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (OD). They have special training and clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions that affect the visual system. They may have studied a special course for optometrists in Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation (or Vision Rehabilitation).
Vision Rehabilitation or Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is not the same as vision therapy, although a doctor may have studied vision rehabilitation as well.
A Neuro-ophthalmologist is a medically trained eye doctor and surgeon (eye MD); he or she specializes in nervous-system types of vision problems that can include loss of sight due to injury to the brain or the optic nerve from:
These doctors may also treat patients who suffer from strabismus, eyes that are misaligned, or problems controlling the movements of the eyes. They are skilled at identifying concussion-related vision issues.
A routine eye exam with a Neuro-optometrist or a Neuro-ophthalmologist can assess visual functions, such as acuity as well as how the eyes are working together, balance and the accuracy with which eye movement is made.
If you or a family member has experienced a concussion, it is wise to get eyes tested in a routine exam first. Issues can be spotted before they become major, and treatment can begin in healing and overcoming the problem.
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is a specific area of optometry that involve spectacle lens prescriptions, filters, prisms and special tints that may provide relief from symptoms. Rehabilitation is non-surgical and may involve a series of treatments with carefully planned-out activities, carried out under the supervision of a professional. It treats:
- Visual tracking
- Visual processing problems
- Other visual problems that are related
Procedures and instruments used will vary according to the nature and severity of the issue that has been diagnosed. This type of therapy does not just strengthen the eye muscles; it treats functional deficiencies in order to produce comfort and optimal efficiency of the eyes.
After a concussion, your first step after seeing your regular doctor is to have an eye exam. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute offer exams for children as well as older adults and everyone in between. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a concussion, then an appointment in one of our offices is called for.
As a leader in eye care since 1981 in the Tampa Bay area, Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute have recruited the best physicians as well as employees, to bring you the finest in eye health resources. Our advanced technologies and methods bring the most recent advances in care to our patients. Moreover, personalized care is provided to our patients, who we treat as members of our family.
We have offices throughout the Tampa Bay area; making appointments is easy and convenient. Many of our physicians are familiar with the eye problems that can be the result of a concussion. We have offices that are easy to reach, located in several cities in the Tampa Bay area.
Please note that not all advice will work for everyone and that this article should not replace in-person medical treatment.
Give Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute a call to schedule an examination and discuss an exam for vision issues from a concussion.