Concussions affect your vision both immediately following the injury and sometimes for weeks or months into recovery. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention names car accidents, sports injuries, falls and assaults as the leading causes of concussions. About 1.7 million people suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year, and the milder cases are diagnosed as concussions. Immediate diagnosis, professional medical care and constant observation can reduce the risk of hemorrhage and further complications. |
Why Do Concussions Affect Your Vision?
A concussion involves a blow or injury to the skull that impacts the brain. Normally the brain is surrounded and cushioned by spinal fluid, but a strong impact can cause the brain to crash into the sides of the skull. This impact affects neural pathways, impairing an individual’s normal brain function until the affected area heals. Since the occipital lobe at the back of the brain controls eye strength and ability, many concussions create disabling vision problems.
Vision Problems after Head Injury
This list of vision problems signals the need for urgent medical attention if any result from a blow to the head in any form:
• Double vision • Blurred vision • Light sensitivity • Inability to read • Physical ache in one or both eyes
Patients may experience a headache after attempting to focus due to an impaired field of vision. They will show an inability to make prolonged eye contact, their eyes may be unable to focus on moving objects and they may not be able to shift their focus from one object to another quickly. Depending on how the concussion has affected their occipital lobe, they may have trouble seeing objects close up or may instead lose distance vision. Colors may also appear altered.
Other side effects of vision problems resulting from a concussion could include a sudden onset of clumsiness. With a faulty depth perception also comes a lack of balance. If the patient experiences nausea or vomiting while their vision is tested, or any signs of nausea after a head trauma, contact a medical professional.
Treatment of Concussion Vision Problems
Every patient’s brain heals at a different rate. While concussion symptoms are the most acute within one week of the injury and can last for three months, some lingering symptoms may not disappear for over a year.
If a concussion or any head trauma causes a vision deficit, it’s important to consult with an eye doctor after obtaining treatment from a primary care physician. Eye doctors who have encountered brain injury patients can conduct testing that measures the extent of the vision issue and determine whether the concussion is the sole cause. They will test the patient’s field of vision, sight accuracy and sensitivity to light and contrasts. Vision therapy can help some patients regain their previous ability, depending on the extent of the injury and how the patient responds to treatment.
After a concussion, the brain is more susceptible to injury during the healing period, so adequate rest and keeping still are essential to guard against further injury. Contact a brain injury specialist for initial concussion diagnosis, then discuss how concussions affect your vision with an experienced eye doctor to form a personalized rehabilitation plan.
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