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Sensitivity to Light Following a Brain Injury

If you find yourself to be more sensitive to light following a concussion, it could be related to your head injury. That’s especially true if you’ve been experiencing other post-concussion symptoms like eye strain, blurry vision and double vision.

Fortunately, neuro-optometric rehabilitation can effectively alleviate concussion-related light sensitivity (photophobia) and other TBI symptoms.

Symptoms of Light Sensitivity After a Concussion

While light sensitivity is a common problem after a head injury, sometimes it can be hard to recognize, as it often overlaps with other symptoms related to brain injury.

The most common symptoms of post-concussion light sensitivity include:

  • Inability to tolerate bright light
  • Discomfort from interior lighting or computer screens
  • Eye pain
  • Eyestrain
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches

Additional post-concussion symptoms may include:

  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Cognitive fatigue
  • Difficulty multitasking

While these symptoms are not necessarily caused directly by light sensitivity, they often go hand-in-hand. In addition, your brain may be using extra energy to process bright light after a brain injury, limiting the energy it has left for other activities.

Causes of Light Sensitivity After Head Injury

Following a TBI, photophobia tends to occur as a result of damage to a specific part of the brain called the thalamus.

The thalamus filters incoming visual information and sends neural signals to different parts of the brain. After a brain injury, the blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the thalamus can become damaged and withhold vital oxygen and nutrients to this part of the brain.

If the thalamus is not filtering the incoming light correctly, your brain may become overwhelmed with too much visual information. This is why many concussion patients prefer dark rooms that present less visual stimulation.

Note that light sensitivity can also develop as a result of damage to any of the following:

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

The ANS governs most of your body’s autonomic processes, such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, pupil dilation and more. If an injury disrupts your ANS, your pupils may dilate more than usual, allowing too much light to enter the eye, leading to light sensitivity.

Superior Colliculus

The superior colliculus is the part of the brain that keeps you oriented in space and has some control over your eye muscles. It has the potential to make a person’s vision more sensitive if it malfunctions.

Vestibular System

The brain uses three systems: the inner ear vestibular system, the sense of touch and the sense of sight. These help people determine and understand where they are relative to the things around them.

If your vestibular system is not operating correctly, your brain receives conflicting information from the vestibular and visual systems. To compensate, your brain may increase its sensitivity to the visual system, which can result in light sensitivity.

Following a brain injury, a person will usually have a combination of these problems. Fortunately, they can be treated.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Can Help

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a customized treatment program for patients who have visual deficits due to physical disabilities and TBIs. Neuro-optometric rehab aims to strengthen any reduced visual skills so that the patient can continue engaging in daily activities, like reading and driving, and enjoy a higher quality of life.

A neuro-optometric rehabilitation optometrist evaluates many functions of the visual system, such as how the eyes work together as a team. Treatment options may include using filters and prisms, and customized visual exercises to strengthen the eye-brain connection. To determine if you can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation, schedule a functional vision evaluation with Visual Symptoms Treatment Center today.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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ImPACT Concussion Testing

A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Every concussion is different; symptoms and recovery depend on the nature of the injury, the patient’s age, and overall health, among other factors.

One of the best ways to evaluate a person’s brain health is by comparing post-concussion brain function with pre-concussion brain function. ImPACT concussion testing provides before and after comparisons that measure your memory, reaction time, and processing speed.

What is ImPACT?

ImPACT stands for Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. It is a computerized test that measures attention span, memory, and verbal and visual problem-solving. It takes about 25 minutes to complete.

ImPACT is used as:

  • A baseline test to measure an individual’s performance baseline.
  • A post-injury test to analyze against the baseline test scores.

ImPACT helps healthcare providers evaluate an individual’s post-injury condition and aids in tracking recovery. It can also play a role in the overall evaluation to determine when a person can safely continue pursuing their chosen sport.

ImPACT is not a diagnostic test. However, it does measure a component of a patient’s recovery from a concussion.

What Is a Baseline Test?

A baseline test is used to establish a benchmark performance score when an athlete or other patient is in their regular, non-concussed state. Ideally, the test should be performed before the sports season begins. The baseline test is valid for up to two years. A baseline test does not evaluate an athlete for a concussion, prevent future concussion, identify past concussions, or determine if they are predisposed to a concussion.

What it does is offer a pre-concussion picture of a person’s brain, which can be compared to an ImPACT test taken soon after the traumatic event.

More About the ImPACT Test

Besides ImPACT being a computerized baseline test, know that it takes approximately 25 minutes to complete. The test can be taken individually or with a team/group. The test results may help gauge when an athlete may resume play and assist in the development of an effective rehabilitation plan. To learn more about the ImPACT concussion test, contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center today.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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How Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation Can Help Post-Concussion

Are you still suffering from post-concussion symptoms? If so, you’re not alone. Up to 90% of people experience some sort of vision problems after experiencing a head injury.

The symptoms that persist following a concussion — which is a mild type of traumatic brain injury — have a name: Post Trauma Vision Syndrome (PTVS). In most cases, the eyes are physically healthy but not communicating properly with the brain. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recognize the signs of PTVS or know how to treat them.

Our eyes are controlled by the brain, so when someone suffers from any type of injury to the brain, whether it is a stroke, concussion, or car accident, the functioning of the visual system can be significantly impacted and their vision will be negatively affected.

Neuro-optometric vision rehabilitation can help improve your vision and relieve often-disabling post-concussion symptoms

What is Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation?

Neuro-optometric vision rehabilitation focuses on various visual disorders that occur as a result of brain injuries, concussions, or developmental delays.

Visual problems are often unnoticed during primary treatment of a brain injury, and a regular eye exam will not reveal the extent to which one’s visual system, functioning of the eyes, and visual processing has been affected.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a non-invasive regimen to rehabilitate vision, visual information processing, visual-motor disorders, and integration of vision with other senses. The treatment program usually involves a personalized vision therapy program, therapeutic lenses, or optical prisms. There are also computer-based activities specifically designed to improve the neural functioning following a TBI.

The vision therapy used as part of neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a customized program to redevelop brain-eye communication, allowing you to learn how to regain control of your visual system and improve your quality of life.

A neuro-optometric evaluation goes beyond a regular eye exam. It involves in-depth testing to analyze the communication between the brain and the visual system, and how deficits affect your daily tasks, such as reading, balance and movement, and more.

Successful treatment can be life-changing, so if you or someone you care about is still having trouble after a concussion, make sure their visual function is fully tested.

Common Post-Concussion Symptoms

man having a headache 640Symptoms may vary among individuals post-concussion, but some typical symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty with balance, coordination
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor depth perception
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Double vision

Unless treated effectively, vision problems associated with brain injuries can be disabling and lead to serious consequences, including additional concussions, especially while playing sports. Common vision problems that may occur following brain injury include:

  • Eye focusing – Your vision may become blurred or the ability to shift focus between objects between near and far distances may be imperiled.
  • Eye teaming – Your eyes may not work together as a team, causing double vision.
  • Eye movements – While reading or trying to follow a moving object you may experience difficulty with eye movements. A common complaint is losing your place while reading.
  • Motion sensitivity – It may be difficult to process motion properly due to a disruption between the visual and balance systems. Symptoms can include motion sickness, disorientation, and even dizziness when scrolling on a computer screen or phone, or when in busy environments such as grocery stores, malls, or stadiums.

Balance is achieved and maintained by a complex set of sensorimotor systems that include the vision (sight), proprioception (touch), and the vestibular system. When any of these systems are not functioning properly you can experience motion sensitivity symptoms.

Vision problems that occur after a concussion can range from subtle to dramatic.

How Can Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Help?

Since every injury is unique, treatments will vary by individual.

Below are some types of treatments:

  • Vision Therapy – This is a customized program that improves the communication between your eyes, brain, and body. The training focuses on improving visual skills such as depth perception, hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, focusing, and peripheral vision.
  • Specific Prescription Lenses (Glasses) – These lenses help compensate for the damage done to the neural system along with enhancing visual clarity and comfort. Lens filters provide help with glare and light sensitivity.
  • Prism Lenses – These specialized glasses change the way light enters the eye. Prisms are frequently prescribed as part of vision therapy for binocular vision problems to eliminate double vision. In addition, prisms are often used to treat poor balance, which is a common symptom post-concussion.
  • Patching – Placing a patch on one eye or part of the visual field of one eye helps eliminate double vision. The patch is often placed directly upon the surface of the lens.

Following a concussion or other brain injury, a tailored neuro-optometric rehabilitation program can offer help specific to your particular situation. Contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center to learn more about neuro-optometric rehabilitation for Post Trauma Vision Syndrome.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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Acquired Brain Injuries

Acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. The brain’s neuronal activity changes as a result of the injury, affecting the physical integrity, metabolic activity and functional ability of nerve cells in the brain.

What Causes Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

There are many ways a person can experience an ABI, including:

  • Alcohol or drugs – excessive consumption can cause brain damage
  • Diseases – such as brain cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
  • Lack of oxygen – called anoxic brain injury, usually caused by near-drowning, choking or suffocation
  • Physical injury – such as an impact or blow to the head, which may occur during a fall, in a sporting or vehicle accident, or from an assault
  • Stroke – such as an embolism or other blockage of the blood vessels or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)

How ABI affects a Person’s Vision

ABI’s can significantly impact the functioning of the visual system. While certain brain injuries may cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, it’s more common for it to disrupt the pathways that enable communication between the eyes and brain.

Visual problems may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Focusing problems
  • Headaches
  • Problems with walking and stride

Treatment for Vision Affected by ABI

Neuro-optometrists offer a customized treatment regimen for people with visual deficits resulting from acquired brain injuries.

First of all, your neuro-optometrist will assess your vision and visual skills during a comprehensive neuro-optometric exam. Based on those findings, your doctor will design a neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to address your specific needs. The focus of the treatment will be managing low vision and vision rehabilitation to improve functioning, including any learning disorders.

The goal of neuro-optometric rehab is to minimize visual disability so that a patient can carry out daily activities like walking, reading and driving.

Neuro-optometric rehab utilizes special prescription lenses, prism lenses or patching, depending on the visual problem that needs treatment.

With the right treatment paired with a customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program, many patients find that their symptoms improve almost immediately, leading the way toward long-term healing. For more information about neuro-optometry please contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center or to schedule a neuro-optometric vision evaluation.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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Common Vision Problems Associated With a Brain Injury

Some 2.8 million Americans suffer a form of TBI every year, which is close to 1 in every 100 people.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) disrupts the normal functioning of the brain due to a strike or jolt to the head. This can cause vision problems, such as blurred or double vision, and difficulty with eye movements, focus, and tracking. This can result in headaches, dizziness and nausea— especially when someone who has suffered a TBI needs to retain focus on a fixed point or task. Over 10 million TBIs occur annually around the world and around 57 million people have been hospitalized for a TBI at some point in their lives.

Studies show that over 90% of Traumatic Brain Injury patients suffer some form of visual dysfunction, yet vision problems tend to be overlooked during the initial treatment of a brain injury. At times, vision problems don’t manifest until some time has passed— so make sure to pay close attention to any vision changes you may experience following a concussion or head trauma. If you notice any alterations in your vision, contact Dr. Neil Margolis right away. The eye doctor will determine the causes of the vision change and will provide the appropriate vision therapy treatment.

What Kind of Vision Problems Result From a Brain Injury?

female lookingOften the affected person with a TBI is not aware of their specific vision dysfunction but might complain of one or more of the signs below:

Traumatic Brain Injuries tend to interrupt the communication between the eyes and the brain, which can cause a range of visual dysfunctions. The signs often include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eyestrain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Reading difficulties
  • Attention and concentration difficulties

Below is a more detailed list of the common vision problems that can result from brain injury or a medical condition, such as a stroke, tumor, aneurysm, meningitis, cerebral palsy, and other neurological insults.

  • Visual Acuity – Blurry vision, either all the time or can shift in and out of focus.
  • Eye focusing – Inability to quickly change focus from near to far objects.
  • Eye teaming – The eyes not working in tandem, potentially causing double vision.
  • Eye movements – Difficulty following a moving object or losing one’s place while reading.
  • Motion sensitivity – The disruption of the connection between vision integration and balance system which makes it difficult to process motion properly. This can cause vertigo or unease when traveling, scrolling a digital device, or when in busy environments such as grocery stores, social settings, or sporting events.
  • Visual Field Loss – The partial or complete loss of peripheral vision. Visual field loss may cause one to bump into objects, be struck by approaching objects, or experience frequent falls.
  • Visual Memory Loss – Losing the ability to recall or remember visual information stored in long or short-term visual memory. This can have a devastating impact on daily functioning as the individual no longer recalls numbers, words, pictures, or any data viewed in the past. Reading comprehension decreases, and the ability to recognize locations and faces declines. One may not remember where a specific object—such as a car key—was put or how to give directions.
  • Headaches or Eye Pain – Following head trauma, the individual may experience a range of headaches or even a stabbing pain around the eye — at times accompanied by redness, burning, or itching of the eyes
  • Sensitivity to Light – In the aftermath of a brain injury, one can develop sensitivity to light and be unable to tolerate glare. Also known as photophobia, sensitivity to light can be exacerbated by particular light sources, such as bright sunlight and fluorescent lighting. LCD screens, used for computers or smartphone devices, can be particularly intolerable after a concussion.

two friends talkingHow Can Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometry Help You Recover From a Brain Injury?

People of all ages who develop visual dysfunction due to a neurological trauma or injury can benefit from a vision assessment by a Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Optometrist (neuro-optometrist). These eye care professionals are highly trained in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of neurological conditions that affect the visual system, as well as perceptual and motor disorders. Research studies show that patients having undergone a vision rehabilitation program can vastly improve their quality of life.

An interdisciplinary rehabilitation team is essential for patients with concussions, strokes or other neurological deficits. In addition to optometrists, team members may include nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, physical medicine doctors, neurologists, neuropsychologists, audiologists, and ophthalmologists, among others.

The Visual Symptoms Treatment Center regularly assists patients in retraining their visual system to overcome symptoms and visual conditions caused by brain injury. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or conditions, please reach out to us.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.