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How to manage vision issues following a brain injury

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Brain injuries can be severe. Even mild concussions can see you experiencing persistent symptoms like headaches and fatigue—and while full recovery is possible, you can’t expect it to be straightforward, especially since doctors currently have no clear way of estimating how the recuperation process may go. Because of this, you’ll want to be alert and take care of secondary effects in the aftermath.

One common effect of brain injury is vision issues, as it can affect parts of your brain that control visual control and processing. Fortunately, many visual problems you may encounter are treatable. Here are a few common vision-related issues you may experience after a brain injury and how to manage them.

Blurred vision

You may experience difficulties focusing on objects at any distance after a brain injury. Blurred vision may occur constantly or at frequent intervals, impacting daily activities ranging from reading to driving. It’s vital to get an eye exam from your optometrist once you experience these symptoms.

In mild cases, your optometrist may recommend home rest. Blurred vision may resolve on its own once the swelling from your brain injury heals. However, if follow-ups determine that your condition is permanent, you’ll be asked to buy prescription glasses for long-term vision correction. If you’re recovering at home, you can purchase these online, where licensed opticians will review and authorise your order to ensure quality.

Oculomotor dysfunction

Brain injuries can also affect how your eyes move and track objects. One way to check if you have this condition is to try reading. If you keep losing your place on a page, you may have oculomotor dysfunction. You might also find it difficult to follow moving objects, like cars.

This condition is primarily managed through therapy. Eye exercises can strengthen your ocular muscles, recover your ability to fixate on objects you see, and improve your control over how you shift from looking at one object to the next. Emerging technologies are improving the efficacy of these treatment methods, and you may be recommended therapies that use VR eyewear. These use gamified exercises based on oculomotor exercise protocols to prevent visual neglect and achieve smoother eye pursuit. A neuro-optometrist can personalise your treatment plan, given these options, so be sure to consult one to discern what treatment will be most effective for you.

Hemianopsia

This condition involves the partial loss of peripheral vision. It primarily affects spatial awareness and depth perception, making navigating the world around you more difficult and putting you at risk of further accidents.

An optometrist will ask you to complete a visual field test to determine if hemianopsia is the sole cause of your vision loss. Though it is possible for your vision to return after your brain injury heals, it’s more likely that this condition will be permanent. In these cases, your optometrist will instead recommend adaptive measures, such as training you to look more frequently toward your affected side of vision to see more of your surroundings or recommending you regularly do eye coordination activities like crossword puzzles.

Visual memory loss

Brain injuries don’t just affect how you view things—they can also impact how you process them. If you find it difficult to remember something you just read, the face of someone you know, or where you placed your car keys, your injury may have caused visual memory loss.

This is another condition best managed through therapy. Rather than conducting eye exercises, you may be asked to try neuro-timing. This method uses tools like metronomes to incorporate timing and rhythm into tasks like reading.

Over time, your brain should more quickly process the information you see. This may help by reactivating your eye movements.

The 2019 study “Effect of Eye Movement Reactivation on Visual Memory Among Individuals with Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)” found that such movements play a crucial role in visual memory by helping your brain quickly recall where it’s previously seen an object.

You may discover vision problems while recovering from a brain injury. Be sure to consult a professional to determine how to best manage them. For more helpful articles on neurological rehabilitation, visit our website.

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