Cobblestone Medicine and Rehab Optometry Services
“Neuro-Optometry: Restoring Vision, Balance, and Quality of Life”
Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, and Concussions
Neuro-optometrists commonly treat traumatic brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Because more areas of the brain are used to process vision than any other system, traumatic brain injuries often result in vision problems. In fact, studies show that 90% of TBI patients experience some form of vision disruption, which is caused by interrupted communication between the eyes and the brain.
Mild Brain Injury (MTBI) – Concussions
Though considered mild, a concussion is still a brain injury that can cause ongoing debilitating symptoms and alter the normal function of one’s brain.
The most affected demographic are children and teens, and of those, more than 60% experience visual symptoms. Older people are also prone to concussions. If you or a family member has sustained a concussion or even whiplash — such as from a violent blow to the head — we strongly urge you to get your eyes examined as soon as possible.
A stroke (also called a cerebrovascular accident, or CVA) occurs when there’s a sudden interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. The ocular changes associated with stroke can be categorized as sensory (visual acuity and visual field), motor (extraocular muscle motility) and perceptual.
The Intersection of Neurology and Optometry
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a customized treatment program for patients whose stroke, traumatic brain injury, concussion, neurological condition or disease has resulted in visual deficits. It applies the latest methods and treatments of neuro-plasticity and vision function to help patients develop or regain the essential visual skills necessary for learning and optimal daily function.
An undiagnosed vision condition, or one resulting from a traumatic brain injury or neurological disease, can result in the following problems:
- Blurred vision
- Eye-teaming and eye-tracking problems
- Visual field loss
- Extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Eye focusing problems
As part of an interdisciplinary approach, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy targets the underlying cause of the symptoms listed above.
The Role of Neuro-Optometry in the Recovery of Brain Injury and Trauma
A neuro-optometrist, such as our team of eye doctors, can treat visual, perceptual, and motor problems that may arise following brain injury or trauma, such as a concussion. All too often, the root cause of these symptoms isn’t accurately identified as a visual processing issue— and this may hinder the patient’s ability to recover.
Below is a list of the common ocular conditions that can arise following a brain injury and trauma— all of which can be detected and treated at our neuro-optometric vision rehabilitation center. These include:
- Vestibular Dysfunction – hypersensitivity to visual motion which is commonly associated with headaches and motion sickness.
- Acquired Strabismus – also known as “crossed-eyes.” This occurs when the eyes do not align properly. One or both can turn inward, outward, upward, or downward.
- Convergence and/or accommodative insufficiency – Difficulty paying attention or focusing on near or far objects for long periods of time.
- Visual-spatial dysfunction/visual processing disorder – a disrupted sense of where objects are in space. Difficulty in detecting differences in shapes or letters.
- Oculomotor Dysfunction – characterized by issues with balance, reading comprehension and speed, writing, and any other focused visual task.
- Nystagmus – a condition where the eyes repeatedly make uncontrolled movements. This can result in problems with balance, visual acuity, and depth perception.
- Post Traumatic Vision Syndrome – may result in reading difficulties (as words will seem to run together), blurry or double vision. Symptoms may not appear for days, weeks, or even months after the incident.
- Hemianopsia/Visual Neglect—losing half of your visual field from either side.
Reduced Cognitive Functioning for Visual Tasks
The visual perceptual deficits following brain injury or trauma may have dramatic effects on academic, occupational, and even athletic success by negatively impacting:
- Visual Discrimination – The ability to discriminate the small differences between objects
- Visual Memory – Retaining a visual record of something observed — a crucial skill for learning
- Visual Sequential Memory – The ability to remember a string of items such as a grocery list, a phone number, or a combination code
- Visual Figure-Ground – Difficulty singling out an object among many, such as a car in a parking lot
- Light sensitivity – Also called photophobia, this is a common condition following a brain injury that makes it unbearable to be outdoors, in a mall, or in a brightly-lit classroom.
These problems and conditions can also result in secondary psychological conditions such as panic attacks and depression.
Frequently Asked Questions!
Do Visual Problems Manifest Right After a Brain Injury?
Visual aberrations following a brain injury tend to be overlooked during the initial treatment, since the patient may have serious and life-threatening issues that require urgent medical attention. Furthermore, symptoms may not even present themselves until some time has passed following the injury. The earlier you see a Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation therapist, the better!
Note: that early diagnosis leads to more efficient treatment!
Who Can Benefit From Neuro-Optometry?
Neuro-optometry helps those with:
- Head and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Cerebral vascular accidents (CVA)
- Cerebral palsy (CP)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Diabetic neuropathy
How Long Is the Vision Rehabilitation Process?
Certain rehabilitation programs may last weeks or months, whereas others may last years — it all depends on the severity of the injury and the resulting visual impact.