Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result in compromise of visual function. This is even so for mild TBI or concussion. In fact, in nine out of ten cases, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries result in some degree of visual dysfunction, as a high percentage of the brain is dedicated to vision-related processing. The collective symptoms of visual disturbances following a head injury are referred to as post-traumatic vision syndrome.
It is critical to timely identify and to begin treatment of such visual deficits, as there may be an interrelationship with other symptoms associated with the head trauma, such as balance. Here at the NYC Traumatic Brain Injury Center, our neuro-optometrists and vision therapists play a crucial role in the evaluation and treatment of visual disturbances associated with TBI in conjunction with our other brain injury specialists (neurologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist).
Even with perfect vision, a concussed patient may experience visual dysfunctions, such as:
· Eyestrain, especially while reading or using the computer
· Double vision
· Blurred vision
· Low blink rate
· Depth-perception issues
· Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
· Difficulty with eye-tracking
Non-visual symptoms include:
· Difficulty reading.
· Poor balance.
· Difficulty navigating through crowded or tight spaces.
· Visual memory problems.
· Difficulty concentrating.
· Driving difficulties.
· Anxiety, depressed mood, Insomnia.
Early implementation of neuro-optometric rehabilitation modalities—corrective lenses, prisms, binasal occlusion, vision therapy, selective occlusion, and lens tints/coatings—is critical in bringing the TBI survivor to their maximum level of visual functioning, thereby impacting other domains positively and resulting in faster phases of recovery.