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Brain Trauma Can Cause Vision Problems

Vision is our dominant sense. Vision is more than simply viewing images of your environment – vision is a neurological process in which your brain understands the meaning of what you see. The simple act of being able to see is a complex, highly developed set of brain functions that require a number of neurological skills. Trauma to the head can cause brain injury that may result in vision loss and other sight problems. Fortunately, developmental optometrists in Yakima, and Richland, WA, provide vision therapy to restore visual function after brain injury or trauma. Our vision specialists also help patients living in Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Kennewick and Pasco.

Woman with headache from vision problems

Our Developmental Optometrists Discuss the Connection between the Brain and the Eyes 

Information flows between the eyes that capture images and the brain, which processes the images into something meaningful. Based on the images the eyes see, the brain reacts. When a baseball player’s eyes see a ball approaching, for example, the brain tells the arms to swing the bat at just the right moment.

This eye-brain connection is extremely complex and takes years to develop fully. A traumatic brain injury can interrupt the development of this visual-neurological connection. Left untreated, damage from a TBI can slow or even stop the development in a child’s brain altogether.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when sudden trauma, such as a violent blow, causes damage to the brain. Everyone is at risk for vision loss associated with TBI but, because the areas of the brain responsible for vision continue to develop as a child grows, children are at special risk for vision problems following a brain injury.

Symptoms of Vision Problem after a Brain Trauma 

Vision problems are the most common abnormalities in people who have suffered a brain injury. In fact, the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) says that visual and visual-cognitive disorders occur in more than half of patients with neurological impairment from TBI, strokes and other brain problems.

Symptoms indicating a vision problem after a brain trauma or injury include:

  • Blurred or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Reading problems, such as decreased fluency, speed or comprehension
  • Reading difficulties, where words appear to move or change in appearance
  • Headaches while reading or performing other visual tasks
  • Comprehension difficulty
  • Attention and concentration issues
  • Memory problems
  • Double vision
  • Aching eyes
  • Loss of visual field

These problems are especially difficult for children, as they depend on their eyes to perform well at school. Brain injury can affect visual skills, such as:

  • Fixation - The ability to gaze at a stationary object, such as a printed word
  • Pursuits - The ability to track a moving object
  • Saccades - The ability to look from one object to another quickly
  • Accommodation - The ability to accurately focus on one object then change focus to another object quickly
  • Convergence - The ability to aim the eyes on an object then track it as it moves closer and further from the eyes
  • Binocularity – Using two eyes to focus on one object
  • Stereopsis - Depth perception

Many doctors are not fully aware of the long-term vision problems resulting from brain injury and focus on treating the TBI itself. Unfortunately, this creates a gap in rehabilitation that can potentially affect the individual’s permanent vision. The lack of rehabilitation can have especially catastrophic effects on children whose vision is still developing.

Our developmental optometrists play an important role in a child’s rehabilitation from a brain injury. Using vision therapy and professional lenses, our eye care professionals have the training, tools and expertise necessary to help TBI patients improve the flow and processing of information occurring between the eyes and the brain. At Washington Vision Therapy Center, our treatment plans can improve the flow of information between the brain and the eyes after traumatic brain injury for the communities of Yakima, Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, WA. Call us today at 509-654-9256.

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