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NEURO-OPTOMETRY

BRAIN & VISION

Vision is the skill that allows us to see the world around us. When we observe the world, a complex series of processes takes place between the eye and the brain. The eyes take in the information, while the brain is responsible for processing and interpreting it.

When the brain is injured, the ability to interpret visual information can be affected in different ways.

Visual problems following brain injury can affect both the quality of the information received by the brain and interpretation of the information received.

As a result, brain injury survivors can experience a number of different types of visual problems which can range from mild to severe depending on the nature of the injury. As there are such a wide range of different types of visual problems after brain injury, there is no single way of coping with them. 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TREATMENT AFTER BRAIN INJURY?

Following the initial vision and neurological examination a treatment plan is developed with a goal of restoring essential visual function. Because every injury is unique, treatments will vary by individual.

Below are some types of treatments:

  • Special Prescription Lenses (Glasses) – Lenses can help compensate for damage to the neural system along with enhancing visual clarity and comfort. Lens filters (tints) provide help with light and glare sensitivity.
  • Prism Lenses – These are specialized glasses that change the way light enters the eye. Prisms are frequently prescribed as a component of the treatment for binocular vision problems and to eliminate double vision, as well as to provide comfort for near visual tasks such as reading. In addition, prisms are often used in treating balance issues, a common component in brain injury.
  • Patching – Patching one eye or part of the visual field of one eye is sometimes used to help those with double vision. The patch is placed to eliminate the information that results in the double image from coming into the brain. The patch is frequently placed directly upon the lens surface.
  • Visual Therapy – Visit our site: EYEMIND

SEEING A NEURO-OPTOMETRIST AFTER A BRAIN INJURY

Brain injury can affect a person in many ways. Depending on the extent of the injury, problems with visual information processing may contribute to and/or exacerbate symptoms of things such as eye strain, fatigue, headaches, difficulties with balance and posture, depth perception, and memory loss. Often one type of rehabilitation is not enough to address all of the individual’s needs. An interdisciplinary, integrated team approach can play a vital role in the rehabilitation of patients with concussions, stroke or other neurological deficits.

DIAGNOSING VISUAL PROBLEMS AFTER STROKE OR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES

Visual problems are often overlooked during initial treatment of a brain injury and in some cases; symptoms may not be present until sometime following the injury. If you notice any changes in your vision following a concussion or some other head trauma, don’t ignore them: Immediately contact your eye care professional. It is important to determine the cause of the vision change. Early diagnosis leads to appropriate treatment and/or referral to a specialist, such as our Deidre de Jongh, who is a Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometrist.

Left untreated, visual system disorders can have serious consequences, such as the ability to organize and make sense of visual information along with poor depth perception and difficulties concerning balance and posture.

Following are some common vision problems that may occur following brain injury or other medical conditions such as a stroke:

Eye focusing – Blurred vision or ability to shift focus between objects between near and far distances may be compromised.
Eye teaming – Your eyes may not work together properly as a team even to the point of experiencing double vision.
Eye movements – You may experience difficulty with eye movements when reading or trying to follow a moving object (like a ball being thrown). Losing your place while reading is a common complaint.

Motion sensitivity – The integration between the vision and balance system can be disrupted, making it difficult to process motion properly. Symptoms can include discomfort and even dizziness when scrolling on a computer screen or phone, or when in busy environments such as grocery stores, social settings, or sporting events.

Symptoms may vary among individuals, but some typical symptoms include:

  • Visual Field Loss – Partial or complete vision loss can also occur after a head trauma. The area of the brain that has been affected as well as the extent of the damage will determine your field of view. This may cause such problems as bumping into objects, being struck by approaching objects, or sudden falls.
  • Eye Pain and Headaches – Whether it is a stabbing pain, dull ache around the eye, or even redness, burning or itching, you may experience eye discomfort following head trauma. Headaches can be long-lasting, even past one year from injury. These symptoms can make it hard for you to carry out daily activities or can cause you to have more difficulty thinking and remembering things.
  • Sensitivity to Light – Brain injury is often accompanied by increased light sensitivity and general inability to tolerate glare. Photophobia, or sensitivity to light, can be exacerbated by specific light sources, such as bright sunlight and fluorescent lighting. Recent studies have also suggested that LCD screens (such as from computers or smartphone devices) can be particularly bothersome after a concussion.

Animated images courtesy of Nielsen Vision Development Center (Selma, TX).