Vision problems after concussion

January 6, 2017, Wolters Kluwer Health

Vision problems are a common and sometimes lasting consequence of head injuries—from children and teens with sports-related concussions to military personnel with combat-related traumatic brain injury (TBI). New research and perspectives on TBI and vision are presented in the January feature issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

Visual dysfunction after TBI can take many forms and can contribute to lasting disability following . The feature issue articles add to the growing body of evidence showing important connections between the visual system and brain dysfunction following head injuries. The new research also shows similarities between sports concussions and more severe blast injuries experienced by military service personnel—confirming that an ongoing commitment to TBI research can have far-reaching benefits.

New Insights on Vision Problems after Civilian and Military TBI

Post-concussion visual dysfunction can occur on its own or in association with vestibular dysfunction (balance problems or dizziness). A study led by Mark W. Swanson, OD, MSPH, FAAO, of Children's of Alabama, Birmingham, evaluated the relationship between vision symptoms and in children with concussion. The study included 276 children and adolescents with multiple post-concussion symptoms lasting ten days or longer.

A median of three weeks after concussion, 46 percent of the patients had vision symptoms while 29 percent had academic difficulties. Academic problems were twice as likely for children with vision or hearing problems, and 20 times more likely for those with difficulty concentrating.

Among patients who still had post-concussion symptoms after 30 days, the risk of academic problems was three times higher for those with vision symptoms and 15 times higher for those with difficulty concentrating. The authors believe that vision assessment should be part of "return to learn" strategies for children with lasting symptoms after concussion.

A study led by José E. Capó-Aponte, OD, PhD, FAAO of the US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory assessed the rate of visual dysfunction in 500 military personnel with two types of mild TBI. About two-thirds had blast-related TBI, most often caused by improvised explosive devices. The rest had nonblast-related TBI, with causes such as falls or blunt force.

Nearly one-third of patients had significant visual problems and symptoms one year after injury—whether they had blast-related or nonblast-related TBI. Eye pain was more common in the early stages, while double vision (diplopia) was more frequent later on. The findings highlight the need for ongoing vision rehabilitation care for veterans with TBI. They also suggest that visual problems resulting from civilian TBI—which is rarely blast-related—are similar to those after blast-related military TBI.

In an invited commentary, James F. Jorkasky of the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research and vision rehabilitation expert Gregory L. Goodrich, PhD, FAAO, discuss the importance of continued research into problems after head trauma. Since 2009, Congress has provided annual funding for a dedicated Vision Research Program.

Recognizing the potentially severe impact of concussions—especially repeated concussions—has led to basic research to better understand the visual consequences of TBI, as well as "translational" research to apply those findings to clinical care. The authors write: "Although Vision Program Research immediately addresses deployment-related eye injuries, what it discovers could ultimately apply to civilian eye trauma from accidents and to visual implications from TBIs or sports-related concussive injuries."

Explore further: Vision symptoms following concussion limit a child's ability to return to the classroom

More information: Click here to read the special January issue of Optometry and Vision Science.

Related Stories

Vision symptoms following concussion limit a child's ability to return to the classroom

January 5, 2017
A comprehensive vision assessment should be part of return-to-learn protocols to help determine when children are ready to return to the classroom following concussions—particularly in children reporting academic difficulty.

In combat vets and others, high rate of vision problems after traumatic brain injury

February 4, 2013
Visual symptoms and abnormalities occur at high rates in people with traumatic brain injury (TBI)—including Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans with blast-related TBI, reports a study, "Abnormal Fixation in Individuals with ...

Concussions in female high school athletes—frequent but under-reported

September 29, 2016
Nearly half of female athletes participating in high school sports have had a diagnosed or suspected concussion—but most don't report these sports-related injuries to coaches or trainers, reports a study in the Journal ...

Undiagnosed eye problems pose risks for migrant farm workers

October 11, 2016
(HealthDay)—Vision problems are common among migrant farm workers, but many never get eye exams, a new study shows.

New study shows link between ADHD and vision impairment in children

February 26, 2016
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most frequently encountered neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, and a new study from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recently published ...

Strict rest may not be best medicine for kids' concussions

December 20, 2016
Strict rest may not be the best medicine for kids with concussions, a Canadian study found, challenging the idea that physical activity should be avoided until symptoms disappear.

Recommended for you

Satellite imaging techniques may help reduce preventable vision loss

May 11, 2018
By adapting pattern recognition techniques used to assess satellite images, scientists have devised a novel way to diagnose blinding eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.

Ophthalmologists link immunotherapy with a serious eye condition

May 7, 2018
New immunotherapy treatments offer a remarkable chance for survival for patients with advanced melanoma and hard-to-treat cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung.

Burnout, depression can affect ophthalmology residents, study finds

May 4, 2018
A new study led by Brown University researchers finds that ophthalmology residents across the U.S. face a substantial burden of burnout and depression, which may affect not only the residents themselves but also the quality ...

AI better than most human experts at detecting cause of preemie blindness

May 3, 2018
An algorithm that uses artificial intelligence can automatically and more accurately diagnose a potentially devastating cause of childhood blindness than most expert physicians, a paper published in JAMA Ophthalmology suggests.

New diagnostic technique picks up the S in vision

May 1, 2018
A new technique that could help improve diagnosis of vision disorders has been successfully tested at the University of Bradford, UK.

A bit of dark chocolate might sweeten your vision

April 26, 2018
It may not replace prescription glasses, but a few bites of dark chocolate might offer a slight and temporary bump up in vision quality, new research suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.