We run into countless numbers of patients with brain injuries. They’ve had concussions, strokes, brain tumors, and brain surgery among other things that have left them with numerous visual problems. The most common vision problems include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Difficulty focusing
- Eyestrain and fatigue
- Light sensitivity
- Depth perception
- Loss of peripheral vision
It is very challenging to fix these issues. Quick fixes such as a magic pill or specialized surgery do not exist yet to solve many vision problems caused by severe brain injuries. So what is left besides just the passage of time and prayer?
Accommodations for Brain Injury leading to vision problems
Initially, you may need accommodations in the short term. Historically we used to patch an eye when patients were left with sudden double vision after surgery. These days however, sometimes occluding just a part of the visual field in one or both eyes can be adequate. For instance, putting a piece of tape on a pair of glasses or temporary goggles over the central viewing portion can be helpful. For patients where one or both eyes have a tendency to drift inward, tape can be applied on the glasses closer to the nasal side. Ask your optometrist how large of an area they would recommend to eliminate your double vision. When possible, we prefer to avoid full occlusion while still being sensitive to the symptoms a patient will have.
Other accommodations can include sunglasses to reduce light sensitivity and even special tints to calm and soothe the visual system. A rule of thumb is that red tints are stimulating whereas blue tints are calming. Most patients with brain injuries do not require more stimulation so we generally avoid those colored tints. The selection of tint usage and color varies from patient to patient. Some will respond in amazing life-changing fashion whereas others will only notice subtle differences. Best just to try to see how it makes you feel with the help of an optometrist.
There are governmental aid programs you may qualify for if you are left disabled. If your vision is very impaired you may qualify for handicap placards and disability.
Therapy for Vision Issues from Brain Surgery and Damage
These cases usually involve prolonged therapy and a team of professionals. A good neurosurgeon and neurologist should be following you for care especially when things change quickly. If you are in the healing process and no surgery or medication is recommended, you can begin therapy. Those with brain injuries of course do not only suffer from vision problems that can be addressed with vision therapy, neuro-optometric rehabilitation, and orthoptics. A good physical and occupational therapist are crucial to getting back to your old self. Even if you are just working on gross motor movements and balance with a physical or occupational therapist there are immense benefits to how that can help improve your eye muscle coordination as well.
In fact, whether you are with a vision therapist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist you will likely be working with therapeutic techniques that include working with your sense of balance. Working on the vestibular system, or the part of your brain that deals with balance, gives feedback and directly impacts your eye alignment and stability. Simply standing on a balance board and catching bean bags with both hands in a wonderful place to start. Eye muscle stretches and peripheral vision awareness techniques are part of the basic building blocks for vision rehabilitation. Locking in images peripherally into single objects is usually accomplished before working on centrally fusing them if you are trying to eliminate double vision.
Ultimately, you’ll want to work with a professional who can tailor your program so that it works for you. Search www.covd.org for a nearby vision therapy doctor or give us a call at (714) 988-6179 and of course we’d love to see you at our neuro-optometric rehabilitation center in Costa Mesa and get you back on the road to recovery. Insight Vision Center Optometry is one of only a handful of vision centers that regularly works with patients with brain injuries.