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Brain Injuries and Vision.

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The most common visual symptoms include:

  • Double vision
  • Poor eye tracking ability (causing problems reading or working on a computer)
  • Difficulties with shifting gaze quickly from one point to another
  • Focusing (poor  clarity and unsteady vision)
  • Loss of binocular vision (eye alignment)
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue
  • Glare, or light sensitivity
  • Inability to maintain visual contact
  • Headaches
  • Blurred near vision

The injury can also impact a person’s visual information processing ability.  This can cause the following symptoms:

  • Spatial disorientation (making it difficult to figure out where to move about, walk down a hall, climb steps or drive)
  • Shifts in ability to judge location of objects
  • Difficulties with balance and posture
  • Poor depth perception
  • Memory loss

The brain’s visual processing is organized by two systems. One is the peripheral vision using the ambient process (information from a variety of senses and uses the information for orientation and movement.  It contributes to balance; movement, coordination and posture and provides information on where you are in space). Second, the focal pathway (central vision and clarity of vision) which tells you what you are looking at. With a brain injury, the ambient process is often compromised, and your visual system can’t match information with your focal pathway and other elements of the visual system. Damage to this process is not picked up by a brain scan and the patient’s visual acuity is often a perfect 20/20. When these systems are affected, this influences not only balance and movement, but also perception of space and the ability to process information. When the brain cannot process the visual information with the rest of the information it is receiving, it results in feeling overwhelmed, nausea or dizziness (for example: in grocery stores or crowded environments). Through vision therapy and the proper use of prism and lens therapy, an optometrist specifically trained to work with Traumatic Brain Injury patients can help improve the flow and processing of information between the eyes and the brain.  Vision therapy can be a very practical and effective approach to restoring a more normal quality of life.