Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is damage to any area of the brain due to external force. The damage may be microscopic, as in the case of concussions, or it could be structure-altering, as in a more severe TBI or stroke.
Signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury
Accommodative Insufficiency – This condition is a reduction in eye focusing ability that results in blurry vision at near, even in young athletes. Near vision may be constantly blurry or may pulse in and out of clarity during near activities like reading.
Blurry Vision – Blurry vision following a concussion can occur at distance, near or both.
Convergence Insufficiency – This inability to use the eyes comfortably at near can result in a number of symptoms including: headaches, eyestrain, fatigue or even double vision during near activities.
Double Vision – There are several causes of double vision, which is why anyone who sees double (even intermittently) should be evaluated by an optometrist with advanced training in neuro-optometry, binocular vision and vision therapy.
Light Sensitivity – Photophobia, or light sensitivity, can result from various types of acquired brain injuries (including concussions).
Ocular-Motor Dysfunction – Deficiencies in eye movement abilities are quite common following concussions and other forms of mild traumatic brain injuries. These eye movement deficits can pose challenges with many activities of daily life, including reading and driving.
Reduced Cognitive Abilities with Visual Tasks – Visual perceptual deficits can be caused by concussions and have dramatic effects on academic, occupational and even athletic success.
Visual Discrimination – Seeing small detailed differences between objects
Visual Memory – Keeping a visual image in your head in order to retain information better
Visual Sequential Memory – Remembering a sequence of information, like a phone number, or several items on a to-do list
Visual Figure Ground – Finding objects in a crowded area, working with spreadsheets on a computer
Reduced Visual Processing Speed or Reaction Time – Prolonged visual processing speed can slow down an athlete both on and off the field. The speed with which an athlete processes visual information affects many aspects of athletic competition, including: reading the field of play, judging the speed of a moving ball or puck, and judging the speed of other players on the field.
Visual Field Defects – Stroke patients may experience a lack of vision in one section of their field of sight. In some cases, the entire right or left side of their vision may disappear following a stroke. Lenses, prisms, vision therapy and occupational therapy can all be helpful to patients who need to re-learn spatial judgment after experiencing visual field loss.
Treatment for traumatic brain injury
The advocated treatment is a multi-disciplinary approach: optometrists, physicians, physio-therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, speech pathologists, chiropractors, craniosacral therapists, and other specialists depending on associated symptoms.
During the initial assessment at our office, our doctor will evaluate visual acuity, eye-teaming, eye movements, balance, and posture.
Special glasses with prism lenses may be utilized to help a patient recover their center of balance or improve their eye-teaming. Binasal occlusion (frosting the inside-corners of the lenses) can significantly reduce “sensory information overload,” calming the visual system.
Vision therapy involves working both sides of the body so that both hemispheres of the brain communicate together. Patients will learn techniques to improve their peripheral awareness and eye tracking, as well as near-far focusing and eye-teaming. The length of therapy varies depending on the severity of the injury. Dr. Carter will evaluate her patients after every 10-12 sessions to ensure that their visual function is improving.