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An overlooked but serious concussion-related injury

A concussion can happen many different ways: during contact sports, in a car crash or when you slip and fall on a sidewalk or in a store or other building. What many people do not know is that when you hit your head, especially the back of your head, your vision may be affected, for a long time or even permanently.

Types of vision issues after a head injury

Visual acuity is the measurement of how accurately someone can read a chart. Many times, after a car crash this is the only test done. But there are other eye issues that can result from a blow to the head. The most common, but often overlooked are:

  • Accommodative disorders: When you can’t focus your eyes for longer stretches of time.
  • Convergence insufficiency: When your eyes can’t look at something close and focus–such as a book, telephone or computer. This is often misdiagnosed as an accommodative disorder.
  • Diplopia: Commonly knowns as double vision.

If you can see clearly but notice you have double-vision, can’t focus or have issues with depth-perception, it’s a good idea to see a specialist such as an ophthalmologist. You may then be prescribed vision therapy. This therapy can be done either at home or at a clinic. Research by the National Eye Institute (NEI) indicates better results may be achieved by therapy done in-person at a clinic.

How vision therapy works

Vision therapy has promising results if you are suffering from vision issues related to post-concussion syndrome. A trained therapist will work with you on a variety of exercises including, eye-tracking, focusing and exercises which make the eyes work in tandem or as a “team.”

Your therapist may also assess you for how you detect space and distance, visual discrimination (like reversing letters) and even hand-eye coordination exercises that involve writing things. You may be given exercises to do at home and equipment to help your eye re-training. Your progress will be reviewed and assessed at regular intervals.

What if vision therapy doesn’t work?

Vision therapy, according to a study by the NEI, works for about 75% of people. Vision therapy is regarded by health care professionals as the best first line of treatment. If, after a year or more of therapy, you see no improvement it may be time to try something else. For example, if you are suffering from double vision issues, you may be prescribed special prism glasses that correct this.

Other issues a concussion can cause

Vision issues such as blurred vision, light sensitivity, eye strain and double vision are just some of the unfortunate maladies concussion victims can suffer. Other concussion-related health concerns may include:

  • Anxiety, irritability and frustration
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness, nausea and balance issues
  • Impaired ability to process visual information
  • Memory issues

For more detailed concussion information, check out our August 03, 2020 blog post. Any accident that causes you to hit your head -including slipping or tripping and falling on a slick surface or during an animal attack – should prompt you to be seen and be evaluated for a concussion by a medical professional.