Perhaps you can relate to one of these scenarios:
After sustaining a mild head injury in a car accident, you now have trouble focusing any time you try to read. You can’t concentrate and feel the need to shut or cover your eyes to find some relief.
Or maybe your child fell and took a blow to the head while playing sports and has complained of headaches ever since. Traditional headache remedies just aren’t effective, and your primary care doctor assures you that no obvious brain damage has occurred and that the headaches will resolve shortly — but they persist.
For the estimated 1.5 million Americans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year, these scenarios are typical of post-TBI struggles. Concussions and other forms of TBI can seriously impact lives by generating long-lasting symptoms. Fortunately, a neuro-optometrist can provide a crucial component to the healing process with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
If you or a loved one has suffered even a mild TBI, call Blacksburg Eye Associates to schedule a functional visual evaluation and determine if you can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
What Types of Symptoms Follow a Head Injury?
The brain controls much of what goes on in our bodies, so it’s no surprise that a TBI can produce a wide range of symptoms. Below we’ll discuss the most common symptoms and how we can help treat them.
Approximately 90% of all TBIs result in some degree of visual dysfunction. When the eye-brain connection is disrupted, a decrease in visual ability results. Some visual difficulties that may follow a TBI include:
- Blurred or double vision
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Convergence insufficiency — the inability of the eyes to focus on a near object
- Binocular vision disorder — eye turn or lazy eye
- Problems with eye-tracking or eye-teaming
- Difficulty reading or often losing your place while reading
- Color contrast issues
- Peripheral vision defects
- Eye strain or tired eyes
- Decreased visual acuity
Headaches and Migraines
In many cases, headaches, including migraines, can be caused by a visual dysfunction. Following a TBI, the ocular muscles will need to exert extra effort to compensate for trauma to the visual system. This additional effort can lead to eye strain.and cause pain in the temples and forehead similar to —and often mistaken for— a tension headache or migraine. Correcting the visual problem will, in many cases, alleviate the intensity and frequency of headaches, or eliminate them entirely.
Dizziness and Balance Problems
The eyes provide the brain with vital information regarding balance and coordination, so when the eye-brain connection is affected you may feel off-balance. This is especially true when a binocular vision disorder is present. Even the slightest misalignment of the eyes can make you feel dizzy, light-headed, or lose balance. Small degrees of misalignment can often be overlooked during routine eye exams, making it all the more important to see a neuro-optometrist in the presence of symptoms.
Another possible after-effect of a concussion or other TBI is difficulty concentrating, especially when reading. It may be challenging to keep your place on the page or smoothly navigate along a sentence without having to stop and close your eyes momentarily for relief. Other potential challenges include problems with comprehension, memory difficulties, or trouble with multitasking.
How A Neuro-Optometrist Can Help
Neuro-optometrists are Doctors of Optometry (OD) who’ve been through postgraduate training to assess and treat visual disorders related to TBI and other similar conditions. The goal of neuro-optometric rehabilitation is to retrain the eyes and brain to work in unison and regain clear and comfortable vision by using specific visual exercises. Just as with any other rehabilitation therapy, the earlier one starts the rehabilitation program following a TBI, the higher the chance of recovering lost visual skills.
Blacksburg Eye Associates provides neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy and other services to patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.