Traumatic Brain Injuries and Vision

Traumatic brain injuries (which, despite the name, need not be incurred in incidents many of us would consider “traumatic”) are not altogether uncommon, and studies show that in as many as 90 percent of cases there is a vision issue following the injury.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Vision in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

What Causes Vision Problems Following a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Eye Damage

When one sustains a head injury, the eye itself can be injured, and if there had previously been eye conditions present such as cataracts, these may be made worse by a head injury. If the muscles which control the eye’s lens are damaged and not functioning properly, it can be difficult to change focus between near and far objects. If the muscles which control eye movement or the nerves which control the muscles are negatively impacted, or if there is a hairline fracture in the eye socket, it can be difficult to control eye movement.

Brain Damage

Traumatic brain injuries can also, of course, lead to damage in the brain itself, impacting the “wiring” of the brain. This can negatively affect many brain functions, including vision. 

Damage to the Brain-Eye Connection

Both the eyes and the brain are part of the vision system, and even if each is working properly on its own, if the connection between them is not functioning correctly, vision problems will result. Additionally, damage to this connection can lead to decreased visual memory (the ability to remember seen items like passwords) and decreased visual field (diminished ability to see to the sides, or above and below.


Some medications a patient may receive post injury may affect vision. This can include making focusing more difficult, or dryness.


What Vision Symptoms Can Occur Following a Traumatic Brain Injury?

There are numerous potential signs of a vision problem following a traumatic brain injury. These include:

  • Eye aching or pain
  • Headaches or motion sickness
  • Lack of balance
  • Difficulty moving the eyes, especially together
  • Decreased depth perception
  • Excessive tearing 
  • Decreased visual memory
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks requiring vision
What Vision Symptoms Can Occur Following a Traumatic Brain Injury?

How Should Vision Problems From Traumatic Brain Injuries be Treated?

If you experience vision issues following a traumatic brain injury, consult with eye care professionals who specialize in treating vision issues resulting from brain injuries, such as neuro-optometrists.

Following an evaluation to get a proper sense of your condition, the neuro-optometrist will devise a personalized treatment plan for your unique situation. This can include vision therapy exercises and the use of vision aids or surgery.

The amount of time required for treatment and recovery will vary on a case by case basis.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon


Traumatic brain injuries have a high chance of causing some sort of vision issue. The precise causes and symptoms can vary, but it is important to seek proper diagnoses and treatment as soon as possible, to prevent minor problems from becoming major ones. If you are experiencing vision issues following a traumatic brain injury, contact us to Book an Appointment for an evaluation.

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