Concussions and Vision

Your vision is affected by more than just your eye health. Your brain plays a big role in vision, as well, and any damage to the head has the potential to affect your sight, even if your eyes were unharmed. Concussions in particular can cause some serious vision issues.

Concussions can occur in anyone, but children and young adults are particularly at risk. This is because they are more likely to be athletes or otherwise participate in dangerous activities. Some sports, like American football, have incredibly high concussion rates. However, concussions can also result from something as innocuous as slipping on a wet lawn or running into another person. And when a concussion does strike, it often brings with it multiple serious side effects.

Vision problems are often a sign of a concussion and can be used to help diagnose them or assess the seriousness of the problem. If you have suffered any head trauma recently, get an examination from your doctor, and be on the lookout for any of the vision problems associated with concussions.

Double vision

Double vision is typically the result of a severe concussion. While it is not uncommon for a brief occurrence of double vision to coincide with a concussion, any double vision that persists or starts long after the injury should be immediately addressed. Double vision is never normal and should always be brought to the attention of your doctor.

Double vision brings with it a whole host of unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, disorientation and balance problems. Trying to live with untreated double vision can be dangerous and upsetting. Double vision can be treated and managed with vision therapy.

Convergence Insufficiency

This is another common concussion symptom. Convergence insufficiency refers to the inability to focus on objects that are close to you, such as the pages of a book. The term convergence describes the act of turning your eyeballs closer together to settle your vision on something right in front of your face. Maintaining binocular vision and clear focus during convergence is necessary to avoid blurry vision or aching, tired eyes.

Your eye doctor will need to work closely with your other physicians to resolve convergence issues. Cooperation between different medical specialists is critical to attaining optimal recovery from a concussion.

Accommodative dysfunction

Similar to convergence insufficiency, accommodative dysfunction also refers to an inability to focus on close objects. Accommodative dysfunction often mimics the signs of presbyopia, or farsightedness. Presbyopia is a common vision symptom of aging, but accommodative dysfunction is the result of brain injury.

Prescription eyeglasses, often bifocals, are sometimes prescribed to counter accommodative dysfunction when the problem is long lasting or permanent. Progressive lenses, like those offered at 39DollarGlasses.com are another option.

Sensitivity to light

This is an incredibly common symptom of a concussion. In a normal day, our brains do a lot of behind the scenes work to adjust to the environment around us. These processes become so routine that we are hardly aware of them. One such automatic adjustment is the way our brains handle brightness levels and glare.

After trauma, your brain may have a difficult time adjusting to changes in lighting. This can make focusing difficult and may give you headaches, as well. A pair of 100 percent UV resistant sunglasses can help ease the sensitivity while you wait to see your eye doctor.

Delayed visual processing

A delay in visual processing means an injury has slowed down your brain’s ability to “see”. Vision is a multi-step process wherein signals are sent all around your head as your brain tries to make sense of what’s in front of your eyes. And this all happens in a fraction of a second. A slight slowdown at any point in this process can be massively disorienting.

Visual processing delays can make it hard to judge distance and speed. Some behavioral vision therapies and eye exercises may help improve visual processing times or otherwise assist the brain in adjusting to compensate.

Take concussions seriously

Concussions were once something brushed off by high school sports coaches and even some doctors. But today we understand just how serious they can be. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury and should not be ignored.

Concussions can cause lasting damage to you brain if left untreated. Contrary to what people used to believe, concussions do not get better on their own. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not you’ve suffered a concussion, get seen by a physician to be sure. And if you suffer from visionary complications as a result of a concussion, see your eye doctor for prompt treatment, even if you’ve already been to the hospital. Your optometrist will be able to more accurately address any vision issues.

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