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Concussion and vision: Opto-mize recovery from brain injury2019-01-21T23:53:42+00:00

Concussion, brain injury, dizziness, balance, migraines and more…

Concussion and Brain Injury

Up to 90% of people still suffering with post-concussion symptoms had problems with visual function. 9 out of 10 of those people saw success in their vision therapy treatment. Often vision exams only look at clarity and health, overlooking how your vision is working and missing the key to recovery.

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Dizziness and Vertigo

Your vision can be a major cause of dizziness. Vision and vestibular (inner ear) have to work together. Even after Meniere’s or similar, there are often ways to improve vision to reduce dizziness and regain balance. By training the visual system to compensate for any vestibular problems, you can reduce your dizziness and get back to your life.

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Headaches and Migraines

Your headaches or migraines could be caused by your vision. Do they get worse with computers, bright lights, or in busy places? Do you often feel like you just need to close your eyes to get relief? Unfortunately it’s often just diagnosed as chronic migraines without investigating how vision really functions.

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Depth Perception and Balance

Many seniors who have trouble with stairs, balance and uneven ground actually have depth perception problems.  This can lead to a greater risk of falling and reduce independence.  In fact, many people who are referred to as ‘clumsy’ have functional depth perception problems.  If you misjudge where things are, you’re more likely to bump into it, knock it over, or trip on it.

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VISION IS OFTEN IMPACTED IN CONCUSSION

Post Trauma Vision Syndrome

Are you still suffering with Post Concussion Syndrome symptoms?  Up to 90% of people still experiencing symptoms have problems with how their vision works.  This is called Post Trauma Vision Syndrome (PTVS). In most cases, the eyes are physically healthy and it’s a problem with how the eyes and brain work together. This can mean that PTVS is often missed by doctors who are looking at just the health of the eyes or the brain, and not how the brain is controlling or processing the vision.

Headaches, migraines, dizziness, nausea, trouble  light sensitivity, difficulty with computer screens and more can all be caused by Post Trauma Vision Syndrome. Many of the same symptoms that are attributed to Post Concussion Syndrome are caused by these vision problems. PTVS can even cause problems in busy stores or similar because vision is not being processed well so it causes sensory overload.

If you or someone you love is still having trouble after a concussion or head injury, make sure that they have their visual function fully tested. Treatment success rates are between 90-100% and may involve specially prescribed lenses and/or vision therapy.

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Common signs of post concussion vision problems

Common areas of vision that are overlooked

Your life. Visible results.

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Vision problems can look like vestibular problems

Your dizziness or vertigo can be caused by a mismatch between your visual and vestibular (inner ear) systems.  This means that your brain is getting conflicting information about what is happening around you.  Sea-sickness is a common time when this happens to people, as their visual and vestibular systems think different things are happening. This can be caused by either system not working properly, leading to a visual-vestibular mismatch.

I was diagnosed with disequilibrium and vestibular/ vision mismatch last fall. It was so debilitating that I was unable to work. I was almost constantly dizzy, nauseated, and anxious. I was unable to concentrate and had frequent headaches whenever I tried to read a book or work on the computer…Read More”- SUSAN

After Meniere’s or vestibular neuritis, vision can cause dizziness

Your visual and vestibular systems were once well integrated.   Then along comes a problem with your vestibular system such as Meniere’s or a neuritis, which changes how the two systems work together.  Now the two systems don’t match up the way they used to, and you will be much more sensitive to any vision problems. By improving the accuracy of your vision and re-calibrating the two systems you can improve many of your symptoms and get back to being you.

Areas that can cause dizziness

HEADACHES OR MIGRAINES? THINK VISION.

Your vision may be causing your headaches or migraines

Take the self test to see if your vision is part of the problem

See if your vision is causing you headaches, migraines, dizziness or more. Hover on the box to display the image. If it causes you any negative symptoms or discomfort, it indicates that your brain is not processing vision accurately.

Visual trigger self-test

Hover here to display the self test

Treating headaches and migraines

If the pattern glare test caused you any symptoms or discomfort, your vision is almost certainly part of what is causing you symptoms. All that pattern did was give you visual stimulus, which your system was unable to process well, resulting in discomfort or symptoms. The pattern brings it on quickly, but the same thing is happening to you all day long on a lesser level.  This is not just a ‘blue light’ problem.

Treatment may involve addressing glasses prescriptions and/or vision therapy/training to improve how your brain is using your vision.  This leads to a reduction in headaches, migraines and other associated symptoms.

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Seniors are often affected by depth perception and balance

Tricia was a senior who was had to take the stairs one at a time, always holding the railing.  She had to be careful in dim light, and often mis-judged where curbs or steps were.  She was falling more and more.  Once she had her depth perception working properly, she was able to go down stairs without a railing, walk over ground with much more confidence, and hasn’t fallen in a long time.

Many seniors are struggling with navigating stairs, uneven ground and are at risk of falling. These problems are often a result of poor depth perception and problems with their vision. Too often they are told that this is just related to ‘getting old’ and are left struggling.

If you or someone you love is having trouble with falling, balance, or stairs, please ensure that they have their vision tested beyond just seeing clearly and the physical eye health.  This can help keep them healthy and independent.

Clumsiness is often caused by poor depth perception

She was a fantastic rower, but couldn’t catch a ball to save her life.  Imagine the surprise of her teammates when all of a sudden she was able to catch keys that were thrown at her?

There are many people who are considered clumsy that have problems with depth perception.  This makes sense. If they can’t accurately judge where an object is, how are they supposed to catch it, avoid knocking it over, or avoid running into it? Often family members are surprised when they try on the goggles that cause them to experience similar depth perception problems.  All of a sudden a lot of behavior makes sense.

Know someone who won’t drive through spaces that you know they will fit, or waits way too long to turn left?  There is a good chance that they have difficulty judging the distances or the speed of the oncoming car. This type of depth perception is about more than just seeing the little animals popping out of a booklet.

DIGGING DEEPER INTO VISION AND THE BRAIN

Vision problems can be similar to post-concussion even with no injury

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.

Your 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. 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.

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. 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’.

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.