Vision and a TBI
While there are varying degrees of a brain injury, many people forget about the impact that this has on vision. While the eyes may not have been directly involved in the injury, they may nonetheless be impacted in ways that are difficult to diagnose at first. This is why it is important to understand the impact that a TBI has on vision and what should be done during the rehabilitation process in order minimize the effects moving forward.
Are Vision Problems Common Following a TBI?
Not everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will end up having a noticeable vision impairment as a result. In fact, it is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of TBI victims will encounter vision problems. Naturally, it is difficult to determine just how likely it is that vision problems will occur, but some type of visual acuity and loss of field vision can be expected in nearly half of those individuals with a traumatic brain injury.
Is There a Specific Vision Test for TBI?
No matter what state one’s eyesight was in before a TBI, it is important to have vision tested shortly after the injury occurs. For this, a doctor will typically use a Confrontation Visual Field Test instead of giving a full visual exam. This is actually a simple test that can be performed virtually anywhere It involves the doctor using their fingers to put in front of the patient’s eyes and asking if they can be seen. This is a quick test that can point to serious problems, but it is not perfect. It is the hope of many that a specific vision test that measures areas of deficiency unique to those with a traumatic brain injury will be developed soon.
What Type of Vision Problem is Most Common?
Those with a TBI will typically find that they suffer from some type of visual acuity loss or visual field loss. To begin, visual acuity loss is signified by a decrease in clarity. This can be seen in a person who wears glasses and then suddenly takes them off. Everything around them will appear to be less clear, hence a decrease in visual acuity. This is what can happen to a person with a traumatic brain injury. A loss of clarity be noticeable. In some cases, it can reverse itself. Other times, it will be permanent.
A loss of visual acuity occurs when then eye is damaged. The nerve fibers responsible for sending important signals from the brain to the retina become compromised. This can often be treated with glasses or some other form of assistive device. This may or may not impact the quality of life of the individual, depending on how several the visual acuity loss may be.
A loss of visual field can be a bit more troublesome. This involves a certain quadrant of site being compromised to the point where the person can no longer accurately make out images. It may be images to the top, bottom, left, right, or a combination that are affected. This is result of nerve fiber damage that compromises the ability of the brain to communicate the right signals to the eyes.
Whether or not a vision problem following a TBI is permanent or temporary depends on the individual. Every injury is unique, and so is its severity. The sooner rehabilitation begins, the better the odds that vision will improve accordingly. Absent complete blindness, there are now a host of devices that can help with visual impairment, so it is important to follow the advice of a physical following a brain injury.