Concussion and vision: Opto-mize recovery from brain injury
of our brains are involved in vision.
As much as 50% of our brain is involved in vision, operating like software that controls how our eyes track, work together and integrate with our vestibular (or sensory) system.
Any part of this neurovisual pathway can be disrupted as a result of a brain injury, resulting in headaches, dizziness, fogginess, balance problems, difficulty with computer screens, light sensitivity and more. Some people experience the same conditions even without a known head injury.
Research shows that 90% of brain injury sufferers who failed to recuperate on their own experienced such a neurovisual dysfunction. Once identified, these dysfunctions are treatable, and training can improve your overall neurovisual performance.
The areas most commonly affected are:
- Eye tracking: How accurately the eyes can track
- Eye teaming: How efficiently and accurately the eyes work together
- Eye focusing: How accurately does the focusing mechanism work in the eye
- Visual-vestibular integration: How accurate is the visual information being used to integrate with the inner ear
After the concussion: Treating visual function
Brain injury can be caused by physical trauma (whiplash, concussions) or cerebrovascular accidents (strokes, lack of oxygen, or similar). Even when an MRI or CT scan shows no physical damage, the pathways that are responsible for processing our vision can be interrupted and damaged.
It doesn’t always have to be a single event like a brain injury. Often these symptoms can onset without a head injury. Vision problems can look like vestibular problems. Even when there has been a vestibular condition such as Meniere’s, many people have underlying vision problems which is why visual stimulus will trigger symptoms (busy stores, computers, light, seeing movement). If this pattern glare test causes symptoms, you know that your vision is a primary part of the problem. Treating visual-vestibular mismatch with ErgopticsTM and vision therapy is highly successful and can help you regain your quality of life.
The Focal and Peripheral systems
A helpful way to think about it is as though you possess two different visual systems for incoming information. Approximately 20% of the incoming visual information is not used for your central focus, but instead goes to areas of the brain responsible for peripheral balance and motor planning. So, while many patients may pass all tests in terms of their focal (central) system, issues with their peripheral system can still result in symptoms and difficulties. This can be a frustrating experience for many patients as they are repeatedly told their vision is ‘fine’ even though they’re experiencing headaches, dizziness, fogginess and balance problems.
The focal system
is responsible for the “20/20” vision, and the small central area of your vision.
The peripheral system
is responsible for the information used in motor planning, balance, determining where to focus and how to compare the information from the two eyes.
Approximately 20% of the incoming visual pathways are not used for your central vision, but instead go to areas of the brain responsible for balance and motor planning. Very often in brain injury or Post Trauma Vision Syndrome (PTVS) there is a mismatch between how the information is used from these two systems.
While many patients may pass all tests in terms of the focal system, the mismatch between the focal and peripheral system can leave them with many symptoms and difficulties. This is a frustrating experience for many patients as they are repeatedly told their vision is ‘fine’.
Signs/Symptoms of vision problems following a Brain Injury
Due to the complexity of the system a person with a brain injury or PTVS may experience a wide variety of symptoms. As each brain injury is unique, these symptoms may appear independently or as a group.
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to patterns
- Double vision
- Swimming sensations or moving backgrounds
- Moving objects appearing to have a trail behind them
- Not being able to focus for periods of time
- Difficulty changing point of focus
- Headaches or Migraines
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Reduced peripheral vision
- Poor depth perception
Improve eye-brain coordination through Opto-mization™ Training
At the Opto-mization NeuroVisual Performance Centre, we assess how your eyes and brain work together and develop a program to improve the efficiency of your neurovisual pathway. This can include Opto-mization Training™ and Ergoptics™ lens prescription to enhance eye tracking, visual processing and focusing abilities that support reading, comprehension and focus.
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