With most of the United States fast approaching winter or already in the throes of freak snowstorms, ice is going to become an ever-present annoyance from day to day, especially in our state of Minnesota. With ice comes the danger of slips, falls, and injury, including concussions. Concussions are injuries to the brain that come with some injuries to the head, especially with falls, automobile accidents, and sports incidents. Many symptoms of concussions include vision-related problems, such as blurry vision, seeing double, light sensitivity, and an inability to focus properly. Even headaches, a very common concussion symptom, may be caused not by the concussion itself but by the strain placed on the visual system.
Concussions and Vision
The reason why many major concussion symptoms have to do with vision is because over 70% of neural tissue (brain tissue) is related either directly or indirectly with vision. Therefore, when the brain is injured, it usually causes repercussions in the visual system – either with vision itself or with the processing required to translate and comprehend visual data from the eyes. One of the most common visual problems that people experience post-concussion is called convergence insufficiency, which is essentially the loss of the ability to clearly see near. The reflex that allows you to see near involves three things: convergence (eyes crossing), lens focusing (accommodation), and dilation of the pupils to increase depth of focus (miosis). The part of the brain that controls these functions is often injured in a concussion, and one, two, or all three of these functions may be lost, thus causing blurry vision with reading, computer work, and other near activities.
Good News: Vision Therapy Rehabilitation
The good news is that many vision problems, including convergence insufficiency and accommodative dysfunction, can be treated with reading glasses and vision rehabilitation. If you or a loved one has had a concussion that is causing visual problems, talk to the doctor treating the concussion about the possibility of being referred for vision therapy. You can also come in and see one of our doctors for a full vision exam that can determine whether you need glasses, vision therapy, or both.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has had a concussion, seek immediate medical attention first. Because concussions are injuries to the brain, they must be treated with special attention, and any symptoms that appear in the days and weeks following a concussion ought to be reported, as well.