A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury to the brain caused by physical trauma, typically a sudden bump or blow to the head.
Concussions — a mild form of brain injury — are very common and represent approximately 80% of all TBI incidents. A concussion is a temporary loss of brain function caused by the brain bouncing around in fast motion within the skull, sometimes producing chemical changes or damaging the functioning of the brain cells.
Moderate to severe TBIs can cause loss of consciousness— from a few minutes to several hours.
Any TBI, whether mild or severe, can affect cognitive abilities and cause visual symptoms such as:
- Double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Partial or total loss of vision
- Weakened eye muscles
4 Tips for Avoiding a Traumatic Brain Injury
One of the best ways to protect yourself from a concussion or more serious TBI is to put safety first, whatever your activity.
Wear Protective Sports Gear
Approximately 69 million TBIs occur each year worldwide, of which about 50% are sports-related. Wearing protective eyewear and a helmet when playing baseball, football, basketball, hockey or any other sport, can help prevent serious injuries, especially in children.
Glare from the sun can temporarily blind you while driving, walking across the street — during any activity, really. Wearing sunglasses is a simple way to reduce glare and prevent glare-related accidents.
Polarized sunglasses filter intense light that reflects off surfaces like water, glass, sand, snow and pavement, preventing glare from entering your eyes. Make sure the sunglasses you choose also offer 100% UV protection. Photochromic lenses are a good choice for people who wear prescription glasses since they darken when outdoors and become clear again indoors.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
As basic as it may seem, people often fail to pay attention to their surroundings. When walking, driving, or doing any other activity, try to minimize distractions. Stand still while speaking on your cell phone or texting. When you're walking outside, keep an eye out for sidewalk cracks as well as overhanging branches and other sharp items or debris that could be hazardous.
Don't Forget to Wear Your Seatbelt
For years, parents and doctors have been drumming this into our heads, and for good reason! The #1 way to prevent or minimize an injury from a car accident is by wearing a seatbelt.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information National Library of Medicine, one-quarter of all TBIs in North America are caused by road accidents. Those numbers rise to more than 50% in Southeast Asia and Africa.
How a TBI Affects Vision
A traumatic brain injury can impair your vision, causing light sensitivity, double or blurry vision, and persistent eye strain. In many cases, activities like reading a book, driving a car or watching TV can become much more challenging — or impossible — as a result of a TBI.
According to Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 90% of TBI patients suffer from visual dysfunction, making it all the more crucial to take precautionary measures to stay safe.
Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Can Help With Brain Injuries
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a personalized treatment program for patients with visual deficits due to physical disabilities and TBIs. The goal of neuro-optometric rehab is to minimize visual disability so that a patient can continue to perform daily activities, whether it's learning in a classroom or being able to function in the workplace.
A neuro-optometric rehabilitation optometrist evaluates many functions of the visual system, such as how the eyes work together. Treatment options may include the use of various filters and prisms, and visual exercises to strengthen the brain-eye connection.
If you or a loved one displays double vision, light sensitivity, dizziness or any other TBI-related visual or balance-related symptoms, contact Blacksburg Eye Associates immediately. Following evaluation, Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann may offer a customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to help regain any lost visual skills.
A: A neuro-optometrist diagnoses general eye health problems and corrects refractive errors to improve visual acuity, as well as assess functional binocularity, spatial vision, and visual processing abilities.
Q: What causes a TBI?
A: Traumatic brain injuries can occur during everyday activities like walking, swimming, hiking, running or playing competitive sports.
The most common causes of TBIs are:
- Being struck by an object
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, all throughout Virginia.