A look into visual concussion symptomsJanuary 27, 2017
Vision is our most dominant sense – in fact, according to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, 80-85% percent of the sensory information we gather from the world comes from our eyes and our visual system.
Knowing this, it’s not hard to believe that 20-40% of people who suffer a concussion will experience some sort of visual disorder. In this article we will explore some of the main visual issues experienced after a concussion and what to do if you are experiencing them.
COMMON VISUAL CONCUSSION SYMPTOMS
After vestibular (inner ear) symptoms, ocular-motor (visual) issues are the most common symptoms identified following a concussion. Some of these include:
- Blurred distance (near and/or far)
- Double vision (near and/or far)
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to visual movements or busy visual environments (e.g., grocery stores, transit stations, shopping malls, etc.)
- Issues while reading (words go double, words appear to float or move around on the page, tendency to skip words or lines, reduced comprehension, headaches while reading)
- Slow to shift focus from near to far to near (e.g., taking notes)
- Car sickness and disorientation
- Poor coordination and reduced depth perception
When thinking about your vision after you’ve sustained a concussion, it can be helpful to divide your symptoms into three different categories:
- Issues with your visual acuity or visual field
- Issues with your ocular-motor abilities
- Issues with your visual perception.
Let’s briefly outline each one.
1. VISUAL ACUITY AND VISUAL FIELD
Your visual acuity can also be thought of as your visual clarity, or how clear things are when looking at objects in the distance and close up. Your visual clarity can change after a concussion, even if you’ve just had your prescription updated or have never needed a prescription.
Likewise, changes in your visual field (the complete range of your vision) are definitely worth noting. Patients may notice reduced peripheral vision or a restricted field of view in some areas of their vision.
2. VISUAL MOTOR ABILITIES
Think of your visual motor abilities as the different ways your eyes move and your ability to physically look at objects or space in your environment. There are seven basic visual motor abilities:
- Fixation: the ability to look at an object steadily and maintain your gaze
- Pursuits: the ability to track a moving object
- Saccades: the ability to jump (or scan) your eyes between objects
- Accommodation: the ability to focus on an object accurately and change your focus while looking at different distances
- Convergence: the ability to accurately aim your eyes at the object you wish to focus upon
- Binocularity: the ability to use both your accommodation and convergence systems together efficiently
- Stereopsis: the ability to judge depth
Your visual perception includes things such as:
- your visual memory,
- your ability to judge space and feel secure in your environment,
- the integration between your vision and your body movements (i.e., eye-hand, eye foot coordination), and
- the integration of your vision with auditory information.
POST CONCUSSION VISION TREATMENT
It’s important to remember that 80% of patients will fully recover from their concussion and 90-100% of these symptoms tend to disappear within the first week of the injury. However, if are still experiencing symptoms after the first few weeks, it’s important to visit an Optometrist for a specific post-concussion exam.
Fortius optometrists offer screenings, testing and vision therapy within the Fortius Institute. Optometric Vision Rehabilitative Therapy is a great tool that can help you integrate your central and peripheral systems and train your eyes to work more efficiently, thereby improving your visual clarity, visual motor abilities and visual perception.
Visit our website to learn more about our optometrists or book today at 604.292.2501.