Concussion’s Effect on Vision: Signs to Watch For

Laura Serine, MS OTR/L ATP is an Occupational Therapist at the Inova Loudoun Hospital Outpatient Specialty Rehabilitation Center and Concussion Clinic. She is trained in vision therapy and often works with patients who demonstrate visual deficits.

soccer ball and two players resting on the fieldUnderstanding Concussion: A Visual Perspective

Concussions have become a hot topic – and for good reason. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. Without proper management, a concussion can lead to irreversible damage or even death if a subsequent injury occurs.  Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, tiredness, memory loss, emotional sensitivity, anxiety and vision problems.

How can a concussion impact eyesight?

When honing in on vision deficits, the following areas are typically impacted by a concussion:

Eye Focusing: The ability to maintain a clear image of an object

Eye Movement: Involves the muscles of the eyes (i.e. scanning a room)

Eye Teaming: The eyes’ ability to work together to produce one image

Common vision-related concussion complaints or symptoms include:

  • Seeing double
  • Blurry vision
  • Tiredness when reading
  • Dizziness with quick movements
  • Difficulty finding things
  • Issues looking at a computer screen
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty with depth perception
  • Skipping lines when reading

Research shows for most individuals who suffer from vision-related concussion symptoms, visual deficits typically resolve 3 – 4 weeks following the concussion.  Those individuals who continue to have visual deficits longer than this time period may require intervention.

What is vision therapy?

Vision therapy is an effective, non-surgical intervention for the visual system which offers strategies and exercises for eye problems – including eye focusing, movements, and teaming.  A trained vision therapist can provide these services.  Some examples of vision therapists are occupational therapists trained in vision, or technicians trained at a vision specialty clinic.

If you think you or a family member has experienced a concussion, it is recommended that they be evaluated by a healthcare professional trained in the management of concussions. Athletes with a concussion should never return to sports or recreation activities the day of the injury. The trained healthcare professional will assist the athlete through the stages of recovery and will assist in the safe return to school/work and play activities.

Inova Concussion Clinic at Loudoun Hospital is a trusted resource in Loudoun County for:

  • Baseline testing
  • Early identification through community education
  • Treatment/rehabilitation
  • Monitoring stages for medical clearance for return to school, athletics and other activities

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 703-858-6699.

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