When a person is in an accident and is injured, the most obvious injuries are the ones you can see. These injuries usually get treated right away. For example, a broken leg is put in a cast and open wounds are stitched. Meanwhile, other injuries that are not as obvious often are overlooked. If these injuries are neglected, the rehabilitation could take longer and in some instances be impaired. Unfortunately, vision problems often get overlooked during the initial treatment of a traumatic brain injury.
Hidden vision problems
A person’s vision is a very important source of sensory information. The vision process involves the flow and processing of information to the brain. Since there is such a close relationship between the vision process and the brain, any trauma to the brain can affect the processing and flow of information to the brain. Some of the symptoms to look for that would indicate vision problems after a brain injury are:
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light, glare sensitivity
- Reading difficulties (words appear to move)
- Comprehension difficulty
- Attention and concentration difficulty
- Memory difficulty
- Double vision
- Aching eyes
- Headaches with visual tasks
- Inability to maintain visual contact
- Reduction or loss of visual field
Impaired visual skills
Having good vision is not the same thing as having effective visual skills. Having visual skills that are inefficient can cause strain and add difficulty to various tasks. Listed below are some of the visual skills that can be traumatized by a brain injury:
- Tracking – the ability of the eye to move smoothly across a printed page or while following a moving object.
- Fixation – quickly and accurately locating and inspecting a series of stationary objects, such as words while reading.
- Focus Change – looking quickly from far to near and back without blur.
- Depth perception – judging the relative distance of objects (how far or near they are).
- Peripheral vision – monitoring and interpreting what is happening in the surrounding field of vision.
- Binocularity – using both eyes together as a team – smoothly, equally and accurately.
- Maintaining attention – keeping focused on a particular activity while interference, such as noise, is present.
- Visualization – accurately picturing images in the “mind’s eye,” eye retaining and storing them for future recall.
- Near Vision Acuity – clearly, seeing, inspecting, identifying and understanding objects viewed within arm’s length.
- Distance Acuity – clearly seeing, inspecting, identifying and understanding objects viewed at a distance.
- Vision Perception – understanding what is seen.
The issues can be treated and rehabilitated by a vision care professional. Some issues can be treated by glasses or contact and through vision therapy. With these treatments, the flow of information between the eyes and the brain can be improved.