Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the brain is dedicated to sight. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) often lead to vision problems including shortcomings in acuity and field of vision. These symptoms are often alarming to patients and fortunately, most remain only for the short term. Here is what you need to know about vision and head injuries.
Since head injury exams rarely include comprehensive eye tests, it is not known how many TBIs result in vision issues. Doctors estimate it is anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of patients.
The most common eye test performed after a head injury is the Confrontation Visual Field Test or CVFT. It involves a doctor standing arm’s length from a patient and wiggling their fingers around a patient’s field of vision. While this can determine whether your peripheral vision is impaired, it is not as comprehensive as an ophthalmological or optometric examination.
Since this leaves little objective evidence, most vision problems after a head injury are reported by the patient. If these persist, doctors will often order more thorough exams to see if the impact on your head either damaged your eyes or your occipital lobe (the back part of your brain that controls vision).
Types of Vision Problems
Most vision issues are linked to acuity, which is clarity. It is not uncommon for patients to experience blurred vision after a head injury. If this fails to clear up, an eye exam and a new correction prescription may be necessary. Also, as you heal, your doctor will recommend that you work only in good lighting and take steps to avoid overwork and eye strain.
Visual field loss is more complex. Your visual field includes your peripheral vision and the horizontal zone right in front of you. After a head injury, you may lose a part of this field or even an entire quarter—such as your left or right peripheral or any area in your horizontal field of vision. Since this is caused by damage to the nerve fibers, it is more complicated to treat, and you may only regain part of your visual field.
More serious injuries can include:
- Retinal detachment: The retina is the thin field of tissue inside the back of your eye. A sudden jolt or impact to your head can cause it to tear. Its main function is to turn the images entering your eye into signals for your brain to interpret. If it is not addressed immediately, you can sustain permanent blindness. Retinal detachment is only corrected by surgery.
- Optic nerve damage: TBIs frequently cause pressure inside your skull. This can block off optic nerves and cut off blood circulation. The result is damaged optic nerves and compromised eyesight. Since this is nerve damage, it also needs to be addressed right away.
- Vitreous hemorrhage: The clear gelatinous substance in your eye is called the vitreous humor. It filters light before it hits your retina. If you sustain a serious head injury, you can burst the small blood vessels in your eye and bleed into the vitreous. At first, this is painful and annoying but fortunately, this can usually heal on its own. However, many people requirement medication to recover and avoid further vision problems.
Blindness is a result of the more serious head injuries. If you sustain a projectile through your head or land hard on the back of your head, that can damage the occipital area enough to leave your blind or seriously compromise your eyesight. Fortunately, these instances are rare.
Call a Brain Injury Attorney
If you find you cannot focus your eyes after a head injury or your visual field is limited, contact your doctor immediately. As mentioned, the issues that are more serious must be addressed with surgery, and the sooner you receive treatment, the better chance you have of maintaining your vision.This often leads to extensive rehabilitation and medical expenses.
If you work in an office job that involves computer work all day, facing vision issues will likely keep you out of work. Also, some conditions, such as detached retinas, require that you limit physical activity too. So, any line of work, no matter if it’s sedentary or physical, can be affected by vision issues after a head injury.
If you sustained the injury due the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation. To know for certain, consulted with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with head injury cases. Contact D’Amore Personal Law, LLC to schedule a free no-risk consultation.