Vision Changes After an Injury

"Visual-perceptual dysfunction is one of the most common devastating residual impairments of head injury". Barbara Zoltan, M.A., O.T.R.

"The majority of individuals that recover from a traumatic brain injury will have binocular function difficulties in the form of strabismus, phoria, oculomotor dysfunction, convergence, accommodative abnormalities [visual vertigo, motion hypersensitivity and poor spatial perception]". William Padula, O.D.

Visual processing involves the eye and brain. In fact, over 60% of brain cells are utilized in visual processes! Visual problems (beyond seeing 20/20) are very common following brain injury. The flow of information between the eye and brain is often jumbled after a brain injury.

A basic eye examination is often normal because visual processing problems are not eyesight problems. Visual processing problems are not obvious so referral for a developmental vision evaluation is rarely made unless you report eyesight changes or you have an eye injury.

Hidden visual processing problems can cause your rehabilitation to take longer or be less successful if they are not recognized or treated.

Symptoms of Post Trauma Vision Syndrome include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reading problems
  • Movement of print on the page
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Can’t find beginning of next line when reading
  • Limited attention or concentration
  • Poor spatial judgment
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Perceived movement of stationary objects
  • Bumps into objects when walking
  • Perception of the floor being tilted
  • Poor visual memory
  • Pulls away from objects when they are brought close
  • Headaches with visual tasks

Hidden visual problems can also affect balance, coordination and cognitive function.

You may have poor eye-hand coordination or problems judging stairs. Driving may become difficult and things moving may make you feel ill. You may not notice things as quickly and your reaction time may be slowed. Visual fatigue is common.

Luckily for patients with visual disturbances after a brain injury, the visual system is a learned system! Neuro-Optometric Vision Therapy (based on the science of neuroplasticity) can help re-train visual skills changed during the injury.