Blurred vision, light sensitivity and aching eyes are some visual problems associated with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The reality is, however, that visual issues resulting from concussions and other TBIs are often overlooked. This is problematic because hidden or neglected visual system disorders can have serious consequences, such as lengthening and impairing rehabilitation.
In addition, visual skills are vital for processing information efficiently. When processing visual information becomes difficult, the affected person may subconsciously strain their eyes. As a result, each task may seem difficult and require greater energy than usual.
In a previous blog post, we covered vision problems associated with brain injuries, such as double vision and reading difficulties. But, you may be wondering what visual skills are actually affected? Will a concussed individual have problems focusing on a particular object? As a follow-up to that post, read more about the 10 visuals skills affected by traumatic brain injuries:
1. Eye Tracking
This is the measurement of eye activity. In other words, it’s the ability of the eye to move smoothly across a printed page or follow a moving object. Eye tracking affects everything from where we look, to what we ignore, to when we blink and how our pupils react to different stimuli.
2. Focus Change (Accommodation)
Accommodation is the ability of the eye to adjust its focal length. This process is automatic and occurs almost instantaneously. It involves looking quickly from far to near, and back without a blur.
3. Maintaining Attention
This requires staying focused on a particular activity while interference, such as noise or motion, is present. Whether you’re taking an exam, or walking across a busy street, your ability to tune out irrelevant sights and sounds in the environment – or your openness to detecting potential dangers – is crucial for success and survival.
4. Vision Perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment by processing information that is contained by visible light. In essence, it is understanding what you see.
5. Peripheral Vision
Commonly known as side vision, peripheral vision is what is seen on the side by the eye when looking straight ahead. It involves monitoring and interpreting what is happening in your surrounding field of vision.
This is the ability to accurately picture images in the “mind’s eye.” Your visual system retains and stores images for future recall. While a visual skill, it’s also a cognitive tool accessing imagination to realize all aspects of an object, action or outcome.
7. Near vision acuity
Near vision acuity involves clearly seeing, inspecting, identifying and understanding objects viewed within an arm’s length.
8. Distance acuity
This visual acuity relates to clearly seeing, inspecting, identifying and understanding objects viewed at a distance.
Fixation is the action of concentrating the eyes directly on something. In general, it requires quickly and accurately locating and inspecting a series of stationary objects, such as words while reading.
10. Depth perception
Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions, coupled with the ability to judge the relative distances of objects – how far or near they are.
As you can see, when you suffer from a brain injury, your visual skills can take a real blow! Vision care professionals, such as neuro-optometrists, can play an extremely important role in rehabilitating visual functions.
These individuals are specifically trained to work with TBI patients, using a wide array of vision therapies, such as cognitive training tools and specialized lenses, to facilitate recovery. Perceptual-cognitive training tools, in particular, are designed to improve attention and visual processing speed, skills affected by TBIs. So, if you’ve suffered from a TBI, it could be very beneficial to visit a highly specialized healthcare professional.
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