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Double Vision After Brain Surgery

Double Vision After Brain SurgeryDouble vision (diplopia) can occur after a traumatic brain injury, a stroke or certain types of surgery due to a disruption in the connection between the nerves and extraocular muscles that control the eyes’ position and movements.

Diplopia following brain surgery is usually temporary and can take a few days or weeks to resolve, depending on the source of the problem. In the meantime, people who suffer from double vision after an operation can benefit from specific glasses and neuro-optometric rehabilitation through eye exercises that help restore single vision.

If you are experiencing diplopia after brain surgery and want to know which treatment is right for you, make an appointment with at today.

What Causes Double Vision After Brain Surgery?

The brain is connected to the eyes through a network of nerves — including the optic nerve — that controls the movement and alignment of the eyes. These nerves can be impacted by brain disorders, tumors and strokes, or during brain cranial surgery. Brain surgeries can disrupt the connection between the brain and the eyes, resulting in the misalignment of the eyes and double vision.

Alternatively, the muscles surrounding the eyes that keep the eyes aligned and focused can be damaged during surgery, affecting their ability to perform accurately and effectively.

Ordinarily, having two eyes means the brain receives two images, which it converts into one single 3D image of the world. However, an injury to the eye muscles can cause an eye misalignment, making it impossible for the brain to fuse the two images into one single, clear image — resulting in double vision.

What Are Other Symptoms of Damage to the Visual System?

Although the most obvious sign of damage to the visual system after brain surgery is double vision, patients may experience any of the symptoms below:

  • Eyestrain
  • Crossed eyes
  • Headaches
  • Pain when moving the eye
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Nausea
  • Eye weakness

How to Treat Diplopia After Brain Surgery

There are several treatments for diplopia after brain surgery.

Prism glasses

After an eye exam your eye doctor may prescribe prism glasses that work by altering the path of light rays and compensate for any misalignment of the two eyes. These lenses allow the brain to fuse the two images from the eyes to create a clear and single 3D view of the world around us.

Eye Patches

Your eye doctor may recommend wearing an eye patch because it removes the second image from a weaker eye reaching the brain. Using a patch can temporarily remove the visual disturbance and prevent you from seeing double images, but is often not the best long-term solution. It is important to follow a precise regimen for eye patch wearing and not deviate from the instructions without first consulting your doctor.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

One effective way to regain clear and comfortable vision after brain surgery is through neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which is a personalized eye exercise program that will strengthen the connection between the brain and your eye muscles, with the goal of improving your quality of life by regaining your clear 3D vision.

Following a functional vision evaluation to assess visual problems, your optometrist may prescribe customized exercises to re-establish the effective communication between your eyes and brain.

How Long Will It Take to Recover from Diplopia?

Usually, diplopia that develops following surgery is temporary, and with treatment, regular vision can be restored in days or weeks. In cases that persist, eye patching, prism glasses and neuro-optometric rehabilitation usually resolve diplopia within weeks or months. In rare cases, eye surgery may be required to correct diplopia.

If you are experiencing double vision after brain surgery, schedule an appointment with today.

Our practice serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: What are the different types of diplopia?

A: All types of diplopia involve seeing two images, but there are different forms of diplopia, depending on the positioning.

  • – Horizontal diplopia – images are separated laterally
  • – Vertical diplopia – one image is higher than the other
  • – Monocular diplopia – diplopia continues in one eye when the other is closed.

Monocular diplopia can be caused by conditions such as astigmatism, cataracts or keratoconus. Diplopia can be temporary, intermittent or constant.

Q: What are the common causes of diplopia?

A: Diplopia can be caused by the following: Brain trauma or brain tumor

  • – Stroke
  • – Eye problems like keratoconus, dry eye and cataracts
  • – Brain surgery
  • – Cranial nerve palsy
  • – Eyestrain

Long-Term Risks of Repeated Head Impacts Among Athletes

Athletes at risk for neuro traumaIf you’ve ever had a concussion or any other type of brain injury, you likely experienced at least some of the symptoms caused by head impacts: headaches, difficulty concentrating, problems with balance, visual problems and even anger management issues.

A single concussion is bad enough, but multiple studies published in National Academies Press (2014) revealed that experiencing as little as two concussions can sometimes lead to serious life-long problems.

Unfortunately, head hits that occur while playing contact sports are common, and the health repercussions of these impacts can be severe.

Here are six long-term risks of multiple concussions and repetitive head impacts:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that affects athletes, military veterans and anyone who has experienced repeated brain trauma. Specific proteins (called tau proteins) form clumps in the brain of those with CTE, and these clumps eventually spread throughout the brain, permanently damaging and causing the death of brain cells. Progressive memory and cognition loss, depression, suicidal ideation, poor impulse control, aggression, Parkinsonism, and dementia are among the clinical indications of CTE.

Two case reports published in Neurosurgery involving two National Football League (NFL) players were the first to use the phrase. After long careers playing football in high school, college and professionally, these players suffered from a variety of neuropsychological symptoms.

Evidence suggests that CTE is caused by repeated head blows over a period of years, according to Clinics in Sports Medicine (2011). It’s crucial to understand that you don’t have to have a full-fledged concussion to develop this disease.

Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that affects one’s feelings, thoughts and actions. It can limit a person’s ability to perform at work, at school and at home. Loss of interest in previously loved hobbies, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances and thoughts of death or suicide are all possible symptoms.

Research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2007) discovered a growing linear association between concussion history and being diagnosed with long-term depression. Retired athletes who had three or more concussions were three times more likely than those who had never had a concussion to be diagnosed with depression. Those who had one or two previous concussions had 1.5 times the chance of being diagnosed with depression.

Dementia Pugilistica

Dementia pugilistica, sometimes known as ‘punch-drunk condition,’ is a neurological disease that affects people who have experienced many concussions. The term ‘pugil’ comes from Latin and means ‘boxer’ or ‘fighter.’ The condition was initially diagnosed in boxers in the 1920s. Tremors, sluggish movement, speech difficulties, disorientation, a lack of coordination and memory loss are all prominent symptoms of this disease.

Dementia pugilistica is a kind of CTE that has some microscopic histological characteristics in common with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was first discovered in boxers who were subjected to repeated head hits in a 1973 study published in Psychological Medicine, athletes in other sports may be affected as well.

Neurocognitive Impairments

A concussion’s signs and symptoms can often affect one’s cognitive abilities, resulting in the inability to concentrate, disorientation, irritation and loss of balance. When you have more than one traumatic brain injury in your life, you may be more likely to experience long-term, possibly progressive, disability that impairs your ability to function.

According to the National Academies Press (2014), studies show that recurrent head impacts in football and hockey players cause abnormalities in cognitive function in the brain. In one study, researchers discovered that the impacted athletes had neurocognitive abnormalities in both working and visual memory. In another study, affected football players were found to have problems with impulse control and balance after the sports season concluded.

Slower Neurological Recovery

Despite the fact that millions of people suffer concussions each year, the risks of a prolonged neurological recovery after multiple concussions are still largely unknown. Nonetheless, according to a study published by the National Academies Press in 2014, a history of many concussions may be linked to a longer recovery of brain function after another concussion. According to the findings, repeated concussions may result in lifelong neurocognitive impaieyerment.

This is why it’s crucial to refrain from engaging in any sports or dangerous activities until you’ve fully recovered from a head impact.

Brain Injury and Your Vision

Head trauma and concussions can have major effects on the visual system, despite normal medical imaging results. The group symptoms causing blurred vision, eye coordination issues and dizziness following head trauma is called post-trauma vision syndrome.

Even mild concussions can cause visual dysfunction, such as double vision, accommodative dysfunction, convergence insufficiency, sensitivity to light, eye tracking problems and delayed visual processing.

How Can A Neuro-Optometrist Help?

Neuro-optometry is a branch of optometry that focuses on helping individuals with neurological disorders regain their visual and oculomotor skills. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy aims to improve a patient’s ability to function independently in a multisensory environment.

At Blacksburg Eye Associates, we know all too well the challenges that accompany repeated head impacts. To schedule a functional vision evaluation and determine if there is a problem with your visual system, call Blacksburg Eye Associates today.

Blacksburg Eye Associates offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg and New River Valley, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: What is a concussion?

  • A: A concussion is a type of brain injury in which a blow to the head causes a momentary loss of brain function. When a person’s brain is violently moved back and forth or twisted inside the skull due to a direct or indirect force, an injury occurs. A concussion causes disruption in brain function and should be treated as a serious injury. Following a concussion, proper healing and recovery time are critical in preventing additional injury.

Q: What does a neuro-optometrist do?

  • A: A neuro-optometrist can assess functional binocularity, spatial vision and visual processing abilities, as well as functional binocularity and visual processing abilities. Following diagnosis, a comprehensive management program will be prescribed. Neuro-optometrists can also diagnose general eye health problems and correct refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses to increase visual acuity.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

How Concussions Can Affect Self-Esteem

How Concussions Can Affect Self Esteem 640X350When you consider the abundant functions of the brain, it’s no surprise that even slight damage to its sensitive tissues can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. Many people experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering a head injury. But how can you tell if your symptoms are serious?

If you or a loved one has ever experienced a concussion, we urge you to learn more about the emotional and physical side effects it may bring, and discover how a neuro-optometrist can help.

What Occurs During a Concussion?

The nerves of the brain are surrounded by soft and fatty tissues, and these fragile nerves are further protected by a layer of fluid and the bony skull. During a sudden and forceful jolt or bump to the head or neck region, such as whiplash, the brain continues to move while the head has stopped moving. This causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull or be shaken back and forth, resulting in a concussion.

This mild form of traumatic brain injury can damage or destroy brain cells, and may also negatively impact the healthy protective tissues surrounding the damaged cells.

Although concussions are considered ‘mild’ because they aren’t life-threatening, they can cause debilitating symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blurred vision, balance problems, confusion and emotional distress, among others.

The Link Between Concussions and Self-Esteem

A concussion can negatively affect emotional well-being and self-esteem, both directly and indirectly.

A post-concussion patient may find it difficult to do the things they once enjoyed, like exercising, reading, doing schoolwork or even watching TV. Withdrawing from these activities, even temporarily, may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and reduced self-worth. When you can’t read, concentrate or complete day-to-day activities as you once did, your limitations can become your main focus.

Concussions can also directly damage areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, directly affecting how a person relates to themselves and others.

A study published in Brain Injury (2014) concluded that a person’s self-concept may be impacted following a concussion/traumatic brain injury and that patients should seek treatment for emotional distress following a head injury.

Signs of Lowered Self-Esteem

Because each brain is unique, it’s hard to tell how a concussion will affect the patient, both in the short and long term. Here are a few signs that may reveal emotional distress and reduced self-esteem following a concussion:

  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Avoiding activities that were once enjoyable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling unloved or unwanted
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Negative self-talk
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Feelings of shame, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one displays any of the above symptoms, rest assured that help is available.

How We Help Post-Concussion Patients

Recovering from a concussion can be difficult, but neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help by improving the neural communication between the eyes and the brain and how an injured brain processes visual information.

Concussions can significantly affect the eye-brain connections, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, inability to concentrate, light sensitivity and headaches, as well as emotional distress.

A neuro-optometrist can improve the functioning of the visual system in ways that other professionals aren’t trained to, thereby reducing — even eliminating — these debilitating symptoms.

By training the brain and eyes to efficiently work in unison, visual skills will improve and you’ll find it easier to do things like reading, watching TV, using a computer and concentrating without taking as many breaks.

If you or a loved one has ever sustained a concussion, a functional vision evaluation may be called for to rule out visual dysfunction. Even if you’ve been told that nothing can be done by other health care professionals, we may be able to help, even years after the injury.

Let us help you get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Blacksburg Eye Associates today.

Blacksburg Eye Associates offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: What other conditions can neuro-optometry treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometrists help patients who’ve survived a stroke, sustained varying degrees of brain injury or have a neurological condition that impedes visual function. All of these conditions can adversely impact visual skills and may cause symptoms that hinder independent functioning and reduce one’s quality of life. By rehabilitating the visual system, a neuro-optometrist can provide relief and promote a greater degree of recovery to these patients.

Q: Do all optometrists provide neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: No. A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry with specialized training in the area of visual system rehabilitation. A general optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and manages eye diseases and prescribes corrective lenses to patients. General optometrists do not have the training or experience to perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision?

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision 640Lyme disease is an infection caused by a tick bite infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the bacteria is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks.

Lyme disease initially affects the skin near the bite site. However, if left untreated, the infection can extend to the nervous system, joints and other organ systems.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease symptoms usually include a rash at the site of the bite that looks like a bull’s eye. Further symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands

As the disease progresses, one may develop memory loss, attention problems and numbness in the hands, feet and arms.

How Does Lyme Disease Affect Vision?

Lyme disease is typically divided into three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Lyme disease can affect the eyes at any stage.

The severity of ocular problems may vary greatly. Different symptoms appear at different phases of the infection. The following are examples of possible Lyme disease eye complications:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, often known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the white part of the eye known as the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis usually appears within the first several weeks of the infection. According to the AAO, conjunctivitis affects roughly 10% of Lyme disease patients. Symptoms include red eyes, itchy eyes and discharge.

Light Sensitivity

For some, light sensitivity is a side effect of Lyme disease. Light sensitivity can also be an adverse effect of several antibiotics used to treat Lyme disease.

Inflammation

Lyme disease patients might potentially develop inflammation of the eye structures. Eye inflammation commonly appears in the third or late stages of the disease. Inflammation of the optic nerve can cause vision loss. Optic neuritis symptoms include eye pain, color vision loss, and flashing lights.

Inflammation of the retinal vessels can also cause impaired vision and floaters. Bell’s palsy-like symptoms might arise if the facial nerves become inflamed. Symptoms may make it difficult to close the eye, causing the cornea to become dry and potentially infected.

Visual Treatment of Lyme Disease

Medical treatment for Lyme disease doesn’t always address Lyme-related visual problems, and without treatment, vision may still be impaired long after medical treatment is completed.

Any inflammation in the body can negatively affect the functioning of the limbs and organs. This is especially true for the brain and the visual system, which are often affected by Lyme disease.

That’s where neuro-optometry can help.

Neuro-optometry evaluates how our eyes and brain function together. When Lyme disease affects that connection, a patient’s balance may be affected, causing their vision and depth perception to be affected as well.

A neuro-optometrist may utilize lenses, prisms and, in some situations, neuro-visual therapy. Neuro-visual therapy is a rehab program for those who have had a neurological incident that has affected their vision and its functioning/processing.

This is especially true in the case of children. Lyme disease can disrupt important developmental cycles, resulting in visual problems and the likelihood of developmental delays and learning difficulties.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, contact Blacksburg Eye Associates, to learn whether it has affected your vision.

Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

What Is Post Traumatic Vision Syndrome?

What Is Post Traumatic Vision Syndrome 640×350Every year, tens of millions of people around the world sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The majority of TBIs are mild brain injuries, such as concussions. However, concussions and other traumatic brain injuries often result in some degree of visual dysfunction, as nearly half of the brain is dedicated to vision-related processing.

The symptoms of post-TBI visual disturbances fall under the umbrella term post-traumatic vision syndrome (PTVS).

What is Post Traumatic Vision Syndrome?

Post Trauma Vision Syndrome is a disruption of the visual process. This disruption affects the neurological system that innervates the extraocular muscles that control eye movements, as well as the system that regulates focusing. This causes eye problems like difficulty with fixation, binocular fusion, and accommodative function.

What Are the Symptoms of PTVS?

Even with 20/20 vision, a TBI can cause the following visual dysfunctions:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Low blink rate
  • Depth-perception issues
  • Difficulty with eye-tracking
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Eye strain, especially while reading or using a computer

Non-visual symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Poor balance
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty driving
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Visual memory problems
  • Difficulty navigating through crowded or tight spaces

How Does a Neuro-Optometrist Treat PTVS?

Your neuro-optometrist will assess your ocular health as well as a wide range of visual abilities, including eye alignment and convergence function, focusing ability, peripheral awareness and more.

If deficits are discovered, your neuro-optometrist will create a neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to improve any visual skills that have been harmed by the brain injury. The program may utilize specialized glasses or prisms to improve spatial and/or binocular vision.

It’s crucial to get treatment for PTVS as soon as possible to minimize deficits and regain quality of life. However, neuro-optometric rehabilitation can be effective even months or years after a TBI.

Schedule a consultation with Blacksburg Eye Associates to start treatment for your PTVS today.

Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: What is neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a personalized program to develop, improve and refine underdeveloped or lost visual skills. This specialized treatment involves eye exercises, techniques and visual aids (i.e. prisms) that improve your visual processing and perception through the strengthening of the eye-brain connection.

Q: Is my concussion impairing my reading?

  • A: Many patients suffering from PTVS experience reading difficulties after their injury. Words might appear to be moving on the page or blurry. Another possible problem is not being able to remember what you just read, even after rereading it several times.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

4 Tips To Avoid a Traumatic Brain Injury

4 Tips To Avoid a Traumatic Brain Injury 640×350A 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.

Wear Sunglasses

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.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: What Does a Neuro-Optometrist Do?

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
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries

Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, all throughout Virginia.

 

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

3 Ways Neuro-Optometry Can Help Stroke Survivors

3 Ways Neuro Optometry Can Help Stroke Survivors 640Approximately 15 million people around the globe suffer from a stroke each year. An alarming two-thirds of stroke survivors experience some degree of visual dysfunction after the incident.

These problems can range from irritating to debilitating and can seriously affect a person’s quality of life and ability to function.

Thankfully, there is hope for stroke survivors who suffer from stroke-related vision problems.

At Blacksburg Eye Associates, we are dedicated to helping post-stroke patients heal their visual system for long-lasting relief and a better quality of life.

Below, we’ll explore how a stroke can impact vision and what a neuro-optometrist can do to help.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when insufficient oxygen is delivered to the brain tissue, either due to leaking or bursting blood vessels, or a blockage within the blood vessel.

Serious brain damage can occur within minutes of a stroke, making early intervention crucial.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Paralysis
  • Numb or weak limbs
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Trouble walking
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination

Because a large portion of the brain is involved with vision, a stroke can also affect the eyes and visual processing.

How a Stroke Can Affect Vision

If a stroke occurs in the areas of the brain that control the eye, it can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Visual field loss
  • Double vision
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nystagmus — rapid, uncontrolled eye movements

When a stroke affects the areas of the brain responsible for visual processing, it can cause:

  • Visual neglect — when the patient ignores stimuli from a portion of their visual field
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Poor depth and movement perception
  • Difficulty recognizing objects or people

3 Ways a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help Stroke Survivors

1. Identify and Diagnose Any Visual Dysfunction

A neuro-optometrist has the training and experience required to thoroughly identify, diagnose and treat even slight visual dysfunction that may be causing symptoms.

Your neuro-optometrist will perform a functional visual evaluation to assess neurological vision-related complications and identify the type of vision loss caused by the stroke.

 

2. Rehabilitate the Visual System

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy includes visual exercises that retrain the brain and eyes to work together.

During a stroke, certain neural connections may become damaged. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation aims to restore those connections and heal the visual system for long-lasting results.

3. Prescribe the Correct Lenses or Prisms, As Needed

A neuro-optometrist can prescribe specialized lenses or prisms that aid in the therapeutic process. Prism lenses shift images into the functioning part of a patient’s visual field, or, in the case of double vision or visual neglect, unite the images the two eyes are sending to the brain. In some cases, prisms can instantly relieve symptoms like disorientation or double vision.

Some patients only visit an occupational therapist or physical therapist after a stroke—and while these therapies are often necessary and helpful, they cannot treat the visual system or prescribe prisms.

How We Can Help

Stroke survivors deserve the best in rehabilitative care. That’s why we are passionate about restoring their independence and offering relief from incapacitating visual symptoms.

Furthermore, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy offers the added benefit of diminishing vertigo and depression and increasing confidence levels.

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we can help. To schedule your functional visual evaluation, contact Blacksburg Eye Associates today.

Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, all throughout Virginia.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: #1: Other than stroke patients, who can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help any person suffering from visual dysfunction after a head injury, traumatic brain injury or stroke, or anyone with neurological conditions that impact their vision. If you experience any symptoms associated with visual dysfunction like dizziness, disorientation, headaches, nausea or difficulty concentrating— it may be time to visit your neuro-optometrist.

Q: #2: Can neuro-optometry help if the stroke occurred months or years ago?

  • A: The best time to start treatment is as soon as possible following a stroke or head injury, but treatment can also be effective years later. The basis of neuro-optometry is neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and build new neural connections. As long as a person is alive, there is potential to heal their visual system.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

4 Ways Vision May Be Affected Following A Stroke

headache womanAbout 2 in 3 stroke survivors live with some degree of visual dysfunction following the stroke. Although all brains are different and everybody reacts differently, 4 major categories of vision loss can be caused by a stroke.

A stroke can damage any segment of the neural pathway that connects the eyes to the brain or a section of the brain that processes the images the eyes send it. Damage to either area can lead to vision loss.

Stroke-related vision problems can make daily living a challenge, but there is hope for stroke survivors who suffer from visual symptoms.

In honor of World Stroke Awareness Month, we’ll explore 4 types of stroke-related visual problems, and how Blacksburg Eye Associates can help.

1. Visual Field Loss

A stroke can damage certain areas of the brain responsible for either central or peripheral vision, causing a portion of the visual field to be lost, causing vision to be ‘blacked-out’ or have ‘blind spots.’

In most cases, the same area of the visual field is lost in both eyes. This condition is called homonymous visual field loss, meaning a person may not be able to see the right or left side of their visual field from each eye.

Affected individuals may have difficulty with reading and may bump into things located in their blind spots.

2. Visual Processing Difficulties

Sometimes, a person may be able to see everything in their visual field but will have problems processing that visual information. For example, they may have the ability to see another person’s face, but might not recognize it. They may also have difficulty identifying or interacting with common objects, affecting daily tasks such as making a cup of coffee.

Visual neglect is the most common type of visual processing problem. People with this condition aren’t aware that they aren’t seeing people or objects on the right or left side of their visual field.

3. Eye Movement Problems

A stroke can damage the delicate nerves that control the eyes’ movements. A person who cannot control their eye nerves may have difficulty moving their eyes in order to shift their focus from one object to the next or have trouble tracking moving objects.

Nystagmus (involuntary and rapid eye movements) is also a possible complication of ocular nerve damage.

If only one eye is affected, the patient will usually experience double or blurred vision. Whether one or both eyes are affected, poor depth perception can result from eye movement dysfunction.

4. Dry Eye Syndrome

Stroke-related muscle weakness is common, especially in the eyes and face. If this occurs, the eyelids may not be able to fully close during blinking or while asleep. This can lead to dry eye syndrome, causing symptoms like red, itchy, watery, burning eyes and light sensitivity.

Fortunately, many of these post-stroke visual symptoms are treatable with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

A customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy program can help you return to your normal routine, or at least make daily life less challenging.

If you or a loved one have suffered a stroke, speak with Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann about getting your vision evaluated to identify deficiencies in the visual system. If a problem is found, we’ll help guide you through all of your treatment options for the best possible outcome.

To schedule your appointment or to learn more about what we offer, call Blacksburg Eye Associates today.

serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, New River Valley, and throughout Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

Q: #1: What is neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a tailor-made program of visual exercises that train the eyes and brain to work together. Treatment can also include specialized lenses, prisms, and filters.

Q: #2: What other conditions can neuro-optometric rehabilitation treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometry can help patients with visual problems due to traumatic brain injury, stroke, physical disabilities and neurological conditions. A neuro-optometrist can help treat binocular vision disorders (BVD), strabismus, diplopia, oculomotor dysfunction, accommodation and convergence problems, and traumatic visual acuity loss.

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Boys With ADHD Are at Higher Risk for Brain Injury & Vision Problems

brother and sister 640Studies show that traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur in approximately 17% of males worldwide.

To determine whether there is a link between inattention-hyperactivity and TBIs, The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry [analyzed] data from 724 Canadian males aged 6-34. They collected information, examined health files and administered a questionnaire to the participants’ teachers on classroom behavior.

This study is the first to show that childhood behaviors, such as inattention-hyperactivity, predicted TBIs. The study also found that boys having sustained a TBI in childhood were more likely to have another one in adolescence.

In addition to headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, TBIs can also impair one’s visual function, typically causing headaches, blurred and double vision, and dizziness, among other symptoms.

At Blacksburg Eye Associates, we help patients recover their vision through neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy. By performing specific eye-training exercises designed to retrain the neural processes of the brain. This rewires the brain (neuroplasticity) and treats discomforts or struggles associated with visual dysfunction following a brain injury.

What Is a TBI and How Can It Affect Vision?

Traumatic brain injury is a disruption in the normal function of the brain caused by a jolt, blow, or bump to the head, or harsh head injury, whether from a sports-related injury, fall, or car accident.

This can significantly impact the functioning of the visual system. While certain brain injuries may cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, it’s more common for it to disrupt communication between the eyes and brain.

Post TBI visual problems may include:

  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with walking and stride

Why Do Boys with Inattention & Hyperactivity Incur More Head Injuries Than Others?

While there’s still a lot we don’t know about the link between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and concussion, research shows a few connections.

Children and adults with ADHD tend to have poor impulse control, inattention, difficulty maintaining attention, and high energy levels, all of which places them at risk of getting a concussion.

Additionally, many children diagnosed with ADHD are encouraged to participate in sports to help with social interaction, self-esteem and hyperactivity. While this is beneficial on many levels, if they have poor visual-motor speed, or depth perception they’re more likely to collide with teammates, potentially causing a concussion.

Lastly, research also suggests that ADHD may involve problems with visual or auditory processing that may also contribute to the risk of concussion.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists offer a customized treatment regimen for people with visual deficits resulting from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It addresses problems related to eye teaming, tracking, and focusing that can make it difficult to read and complete tasks. By training the brain to communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like dizziness and headaches can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

If your child exhibits ADHD behaviors and has experienced a concussion contact Blacksburg Eye Associates for a comprehensive eye exam. If vision problems are detected, we’ll offer a personalized treatment program to strengthen any lagging visual skills that may be getting in the way of your child’s quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie and Dr. Adrianna Hempelmann

 

Q: What Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation?

  • A: Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation provides a personalized treatment regimen for those who have visual deficits caused by physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and other neurological insults. Neuro-optometry makes use of therapeutic prisms, lenses, filters, and specific vision therapy techniques to reteach the damaged parts of the brain to function better.

Q: How Are Vision Problems Found After a TBI?

  • A: Visual aberrations following a brain injury tend to be overlooked during the initial treatment, as the patient may have serious, life-threatening issues that require urgent medical attention. Furthermore, symptoms may not even present themselves until some time has passed following the injury. The earlier you see a Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometrist, the better.Early diagnosis leads to more efficient treatment.

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Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020

What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea, Concussion, and Your Vision?

Sleep Apnea 640A recent comprehensive sleep study on people with post-concussion syndrome showed that 78% were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

What came first: the concussion or sleep apnea? Determining the answer can be difficult. People who don’t get enough sleep already exhibit some of the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome even when they haven’t had one.

What we do know is that there is a connection between sleep apnea and concussion. Sleep apnea affects the recovery from a concussion, and at the same time, the condition may result from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Where does vision come in?

Sleep Apnea and Concussions

For those having sustained a concussion, sleep is very important for a speedy and thorough recovery. A poor night’s sleep, as in the case of sleep apnea, may lead to impaired decision-making, cognitive loss, and symptoms of depression—all of which can interrupt the recovery process.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, is caused by a physical collapse or blockage of the upper airway that interrupts breathing during sleep. This also reduces blood and oxygen flow to the brain, making it difficult for those with a concussion to recover.

A lesser known type of apnea is central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, this type is caused by a dysfunction in the brain that regulates breathing and sleep, which could also be affected by a TBI.

Sleep Apnea and Vision

As we all know, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to good health. There are a number of eye conditions that are exacerbated by poor sleep patterns and therefore may be associated with sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Papilledema
  • Glaucoma
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Retinal conditions

Getting your eyes checked regularly is important as it allows your eye doctor to rule out any eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss. This is all the more important if you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Concussions and Vision

Concussions can have a significant impact on the functioning of the visual system. Post-trauma vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that cause eye coordination problems, dizziness, and blurred vision after a concussion.

The symptoms of post-trauma vision syndrome can include:

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with walking and stride

Severe concussions can cause double vision and blindness, while mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI patients in ways that other health care providers may not be able to.

Neuro-optometry deals with how the visual system impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to control and communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like headaches and dizziness can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

If you have experienced a concussion or suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact Blacksburg Eye Associates to follow up on a diagnosis and treatment for any vision problems you may be having due to either condition.

Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, all throughout Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. John Dovie

 

Q: What’s the connection between sleep apnea, concussion, and your vision?

  • A: After sustaining a concussion, you may begin to experience sleep apnea. This not only affects the healing process but your vision as well.

Q: Is there a way to treat vision problems due to a concussion?

  • A: Yes. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can retrain the brain to relieve dizziness, headaches, double vision, and other TBI-related problems.

Request A Function Visual Exam
Find Out If Vision Therapy Can Help You! 540-953-2020