Colorado emergency rooms see an average of 23,500 visits annually due to Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)1. A concussion is considered to be a mild brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that produces changes in normal brain function following the impact. Typically, concussions are not life-threatening, but their after affects can be serious and impact quality of life, as well as, daily functioning.
Immediate signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Ringing in the ears
Research shows that up to 75% of all patients with TBIs suffer from visual dysfunction.2 Visual symptoms include problems with visual acuity, visual fields, oculomotor function, accommodative disorders, convergence insufficiency, and saccadic dysfunction.3,4 Often times, these visual dysfunctions continue into the concussion rehabilitation process.
Common concussion related visual symptoms:
- Double vision
- Poor eye tracking ability
- Difficulties with shifting gaze quickly from one point to another
- Trouble focusing
- Loss of binocular vision (eye alignment)
- Eye strain
- Glare, or light sensitivity
- Inability to maintain visual contact
- Blurred near vision
Vision begins with the eyes, but we often overlook that more than half of the brain is dedicated to visual processing and vision. Optometrists are able to detect signs of undiagnosed concussions and also put together a vision rehabilitation plan that can improve related visual dysfunctions.5
Undiagnosed or untreated concussions can decrease an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks.
Symptoms from untreated vision problems include:
- Lack of focus
- Lack of attention
- Decrease in cognition
Doctors of optometry are an essential part of a proper concussion care team and are able to detect and treat visual symptoms that other specialists may miss. Early detection and treatment of concussions are key to minimizing the impact of the injury on daily life. Find a trusted Colorado optometrist today!
1 (2019). Brain Injury Facts & Figures. Retrieved from https://biacolorado.org/brain-injury-facts-figures/.
2 Stelmack JA, Frith T, Van Koevering D, Rinne S, Stelmack TR. Visual function in patients followed at a Veterans Affairs polytrauma network site: an electronic medical record review. Optometry
4 AOA Brain Injury Electronic Resource Manual: Volume 1A: Traumatic Brain Injury Visual Dysfunction Diagnosis. P. 125. See also AOA Focus. Eye on head injuries: Can football pass the eye test? September 2016