Brain injury can cause vision problems with no direct injury to your eyes. The brain is an important part of the visual system, and injuries to the brain can interfere with the way your brain communicates with your eyes. This can involve processing of visual information, and/or can affect your brain’s ability to control eye movements.
Vision problems caused by brain injuries can, but do not always, include obvious problems with eyesight. Impaired visual processing and problems with eye movements can cause other problems such as headaches, decreased reading comprehension, or even loss of balance or hand/eye coordination.
Loss of visual field
When you lose a portion of your vision, such as vision on one side or half of the vision on one side, it is called loss of visual field. Some people are aware of the missing area, but some are not. The loss of an area of vision can cause serious safety hazards, especially for people who are not aware of the missing space. Accidents such as falls, bumping into objects, and even auto accidents are common dangers caused by of loss of visual field.
The eye movements which can be affected by brain injury are more than just the ability to turn your eyes and look around. Movements within the eye are necessary for focusing. Even small movements of the eye must be smooth and fluid, and your eyes must be able to work together in synch. Types of eye movement which may be impaired by brain injury include:
- Tracking – aiming of the eyes
- Saccadics – shifting your gaze quickly
- Focusing – the ability of the lens of the eye to make the tiny adjustments needed to see clearly, called accommodation
- Binocular vision – both eyes working together
Vision problems caused by brain injuries
Brain injury can cause visual disturbances, difficulty reading, and other problems that are not as obviously tied to vision. Some of these problems include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Light intolerance (photosensitivity)
- Inability to maintain visual contact
- Wondering eye
- Problems with spatial perception
- Words which appear to move when reading
- Decreased comprehension
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased attention
- Aching eyes
- Headaches when performing visual tasks
Treating vision problems caused by brain injury required a special kind of rehabilitation called vision therapy or Neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Your regular eye doctor may not be able to detect vision problems caused by brain injury, because the problem is not in your eye. Most vision problems are caused by a misshapen cornea or a condition of the eye itself. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors trained to look for these types of problems. A neuro-optometrist specializes in diagnosing and treating vision problems caused by brain injury and other neurological events.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact an experienced brain injury attorney today.