Vision deficits after TBI

The term traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to an injury to the brain caused not by degenerative or congenital causes but by an external physical force that may result in a diminished or altered state of consciousness.

Vision deficits after TBI in Olympia

Causes of Traumatic brain injuries (TBI):

  • Motor vehicle accidents - whiplash
  • Falls
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Workplace injuries
  • Shaken baby syndrome
  • Child abuse
  • Sports injuries
  • Military actions

TBI caused by falls accounts for 40.5% of all traumatic brain injuries.

American Family Vision Clinic

Vision is a Bimodal System

There are 2 main pathways that carry visual information from the eye to the brain. The focal system which tells our brain what the object is we are looking at and the ambient system that tells us where that object is placed. They are designed to simultaneously process different types of visual information. Neither works in isolation of the other; both reinforce one another. A disconnected ambient system can cause balance problems and bumping into things.

Why is vision rehabilitation so important following brain injury?

The sense of vision is the dominant sense we possess as human beings. Vision is prevalent throughout our brain. Every aspect of our lives is impacted by our vision, whether it is how we think, what we say, or what we do. There is a high rate of visual problems following TBIs, but they are often overlooked in the rehab process. That’s why you should always consult an eye doctor who has experience with brain injury patients.

Why is vision rehabilitation so important following brain injury?
What visual problems can be caused by traumatic brain injuries?

What visual problems can be caused by traumatic brain injuries?

Following are the several characteristics of post trauma vision syndrome (PTVS):

  • Binocular coordination dysfunctions which can cause double vision
  • Inability to perceive spatial relationships between objects
  • Difficulty fixating on object and following when it moves
  • Abnormal posture
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Poor visual memory
  • Poor concentration and visual attention
  • Difficulty with visually guided movements (bumping/tripping, knocking things over)
  • Light sensitivity also known as photophobia
  • Visual midline shift syndrome
  • Visual spatial difficulties
What visual problems can be caused by traumatic brain injuries?

What are the functional implications of post trauma vision syndrome (PTVS)?

Visual field defect

It can cause you to have a poor sense of balance. Furthermore, it can make you bump into things. You might have difficulty with eating and reading a book.

Binocular vision dysfunction

Patients with binocular vision dysfunction can have difficulty judging distance or depth. They might have a tendency to knock things over. They might bump or trip over obstacles. They might also have a hard time playing any kind of sport.

Poor visual processing information

Poor visual processing information can cause you to avoid crowded or busy places. Additionally, you might have a short memory and forget familiar routes. Additionally, it can slow down your ability to process information.

Visual midline shift syndrome

A TBI patient with visual midline shift syndrome can experience the following symptoms:

  • Floor may appear tilted
  • Walls and/or floor may appear to shift and move
  • Veering during mobility
  • Person leans away from the affected side
  • Feelings of imbalance or disorientation similar to vertigo

Visual Spatial Inattention after TBI

When someone suffers a TBI or stroke, they fail to process information on one side of their body, also known as visual neglect or hemi-neglect. Although this is not a field defect, it can coexist with one. It is possible for patients to become unaware of a part of their body in severe cases.

If these visual symptoms are affecting your ability to perform basic daily activities such as reading, driving on busy roads, consult with our neuro-optometrist who has experience treating brain injury patients. If you would like to schedule a neuro-optometric vision assessment, please call us at (360) 491-2121.

How can our neuro-optometrist and experienced staff help your loved one?

Patient education

A lot of people are not aware of the connection between vision and our brain. Therefore our eye doctor will explain that connection in simple terms during a neuro-optometric vision assessment. They will discuss with patients how their specific condition can affect their lives and limit their daily functions once a diagnosis has been made. We also advise you to bring your family members to a neuro-optometric vision assessment.

Managing your symptoms

Another most important thing to do after a TBI is to alleviate your symptoms so you can function normally. 

Filters following a traumatic brain injury

Our eye doctor may prescribe filters to reduce eye strain, fatigue and headaches. Filters may also be prescribed to reduce glare and light sensitivity. 

Practice frequent and full blinking when using digital devices

You should also blink more often and completely while working on a computer to alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes. 

Diagnose and treat the cause of your dry eye symptoms

If you have more severe dry eye symptoms or your symptoms are ongoing, come in for a dry eye evaluation to assess the cause of your symptoms so that it can be treated. 

Take breaks from visually demanding tasks

Taking frequent breaks from visually demanding tasks is also essential. We suggest that you follow the 20-20-20 rule which means look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

Managing double vision

The occurrence of double vision after a traumatic brain injury is a common problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If blurry, fuzzy, or double vision is impacting your quality of life and vision, take our online double vision assessment to help identify if you may have an underlying vision problem that is causing diplopia (double vision).  Take our double vision quiz.   The following strategies can help you deal with double vision:

  • A translucent patch (not dark opaque patch)
  • Spot patch
  • Sector patch
  • Binasal occlusion
  • Vision therapy activities to improve binocular function such as:
    • Eye Stretches
    • Tactile Control
    • Spatial Localization
    • Brock String

 

Why is vision rehabilitation so important following brain injury?
What visual problems can be caused by traumatic brain injuries?

Medical interventions for vision problems after a concussion, stroke, or traumatic brain injury

Prisms

Prisms bend light towards the base, which causes the image to move in the opposite direction. They have implications to change spatial orientation and eye alignment

Lenses

They provide optical correction of refractive conditions. They also help to locate objects in space and help with visual comfort.

Filters

They block specific light frequencies that cause visual discomfort which can improve visual performance.

Vision Therapy 

In office exercises under the guidance of our neuro optometrist and vision therapist that retrain the visual system following an injury.

Common Questions

Every lobe of the brain is involved in processing visual information. Researchers have identified over 300 intracortical pathways linking 32 different cortical areas involved in vision function. More than half of our gray matter and multiple subcortical areas are involved in processing vision. There is more area of the brain dedicated to vision than to all the other senses combined. Therefore, trauma to our brain could result in vision disorders, in fact according to the Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association 90% of people will experience visual deficits following a traumatic brain injury. Call us today at (360) 491-2121 to schedule a neuro optometric evaluation if you are experiencing vision problems following a traumatic brain injury. We are proud to be a leading provider of neuro optometric rehabilitation conveniently located in Olympia.
Prisms are shaped to bend light in a specific direction, and can be used to correct problems with eye alignment, such as double vision, or to help people with visual field loss use their remaining vision more effectively. Prisms can be prescribed by an eye doctor that specializes in neuro optometric rehabilitation as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for PTVS and other vision problems, and can be used in conjunction with other therapies, such as medications, physical therapy, vision therapy, or low vision aids, to help optimize visual function and improve quality of life. Call us today at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an evaluation if you or a loved one suffer from post trauma vision syndrome. We are proud to be a leading provider of advanced eye care conveniently located in Olympia.
Vision deficits after TBI
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Schedule a neuro optometric evaluation in Olympia

The term traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to an injury to the brain caused not by degenerative or congenital causes but by an external physical force that may result in a diminished or altered state of consciousness. There is more area of the brain dedicated to vision than to all the other senses combined. Therefore, trauma to our brain could result in vision disorders. These visual disorders can affect your ability to perform basic daily activities such as reading and driving on busy roads. Consult with our neuro-optometrist, Dr. Zurcher, who has experience treating brain injury patients. If you would like to schedule a neuro-optometric vision assessment, please call us at (360) 491-2121.

Originally from Arizona, Levi received his Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology from Northern Arizona University and his Doctorate in Optometry from Pacific University in Oregon. He is board certified in developmental vision and vision therapy by COVD. He purchased the practice from the Inversos in 2012. He likes spending time with his family (wife and two children,) mountain biking, and undertaking creative projects. He wrote the vision therapy software used by the clinic, retinal camera software, and the computerized eye-chart used for exams.

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Patients with functional vision issues following a head injury or stroke visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of neuro optometric rehabilitation services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.

Testimonials


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.


Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.


June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.


Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.


Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.


Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.


Amy Fagerness
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