blurred vision

How a Concussion Affects Vision

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A concussion, also known as a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), happens when you get hit in the head hard enough that it bruises the brain. While not typically life-threatening, a blow to the head can leave you with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, vomiting (in more severe cases), and vision problems.

Causes of Concussions

The Centers for Disease Control says that the majority of concussions — around 47 percent — happen after a fall (off a bike, missteps, etc.). Being struck by an object (baseballs, football tackle, etc.) account for around 15 percent of mTBIs. While 14 percent happen as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

Symptoms of a Concussion

Common symptoms of a concussion are headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and at least initially, blurred vision and light sensitivity. Unlike the other symptoms, which can happen shortly after the blow, vision problems, as noted by All About Vision, can actually show up later and may not present themselves right away. So, you need to be on the lookout for them throughout the healing process.

For further reading, the Brain Injury Association of America has provided information on this condition.

Red CrossPlease note: It is a medical emergency and a strong indicator of severe trauma if one pupil (dark dot in the center of the eye) appears larger than the other. You must go to the Emergency Room straight away to be seen by a medical professional.

Vision Problems to Watch For

According to BrainInjuries.org and the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, concussions can trigger many vision issues. They are:

NEURO-OPTOMETRIC REHABILITATION ASSOCIATION

Graphic Provided by Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association

    • Blurred or fuzzy vision
    • Light sensitivity
    • Reading difficulties
    • Comprehension problems
    • Double vision
    • Aching eyes
    • Headaches when tending to visual tasks
    • Visual-field loss
    • Eye movement issues such as tracking, shifting focus, and binocular focusing

If left untreated, the concussed patient may begin to have trouble making sense of visual information, so it is important to remain vigilant for at least a month after getting an mTBI to watch for these other symptoms.

Treatments

The single best thing you can do after receiving a concussion is to rest and avoid environments where you may re-injure yourself while you are healing. The brain takes a few weeks to recover. If it is determined that your vision has been affected, there are various optometric vision therapies and vision rehabilitation therapies that can help. Talk with your eye-care professional for recommendations on which therapy would work best for you.


Seeing Signs: Teen Driving

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Photo of a blurry stop sign.The beginning of the new school year for high schoolers often means the start of driver’s education courses and getting permits for most teenagers. While most kids focus on passing the written portion exam for their permit, there’s another, equally important exam to pass: the vision test. As part of the permitting process, eye exams are given at the state’s motor vehicle facility to ensure that peripheral (side) and distance vision are up to the task of driving.

It can also be a time when teens and their parents first learn about myopia, or “nearsightedness.”

As children grow into their teenage years, their eyes grow as well, and this can change the shape of the eye. This, according to the Mayo Clinic, causes light rays to bend (refract) incorrectly, focusing images in front of your retina instead of on your retina. Thus, making objects farther away, blurry. Objects like road signs and license plates in the car ahead.

Nearsightedness is a rapidly growing concern in the United States. From 1972 to 2004, myopia in people ages 12-54 increased from just 25 percent of the population to nearly 42 percent, according to the National Eye Institute. Why? Computers and hand-held devices are the culprits. The Nielsen Report, which monitors media usage, says that Americans are now spending upwards of 11 hours a day on their devices, up from 10 hours a day last year. All this time spent on computers and smartphones is causing problems for people in their distance vision.

Myopia, for some people, can be associated with other eye disorders like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. Signs of the condition include squinting, eye strain, headaches, and feeling tired when driving. Nearsightedness can be corrected with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and in some cases, refractive surgery.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today!


Go Outside and Play!

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“Go outside and play!” is a familiar phrase most people have heard or used at some point in their lives. And it turns out, it’s an important one, as it may help to reduce the effects of myopia.

Recent research is showing a worldwide upward trend for cases of childhood myopia, an eye condition where distant objects appear blurry. According to a paper appearing this month in the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s journal, Ophthalmology, it is believed that 50 percent of the world’s population will be myopic by 2050. That’s half the people on the planet, with Asia leading the way, followed by North America.

Given the usage of computers, handheld electronic devices, and television, it’s not too far of a leap to think that too much screen time – or other “near work” like reading – is contributing to this trend. But researchers have been expanding that assumption to consider the possibility that it’s not so much the intense focusing on things up close causing the problem: it’s that those activities are largely done indoors and perhaps it’s a lack of sunlight, specifically, Vitamin D and ultraviolet B rays (UVB), contributing to the rise in myopia.

Lead researcher, Donald Mutti, OD, Ph.D., from the Ohio State University College of Optometry, has been conducting studies into childhood myopia. He notes that children’s eyes are still developing during the ages of five and nine and that the growth causes the distance between the lens and the retina to lengthen, leading to nearsightedness. He hypothesizes that outdoor sunlight stimulates a release of the hormone dopamine from the retina that may slow how fast the eye grows.
Being outdoors 10-14 hours per week may reduce instances of myopia.

Simply by going outside, sunlight will help to slow the growth of the eye and may help to combat myopia. Kathryn Rose, a leading international researcher of visual disorders at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences, says 10-14 hours a week should do it.

So go outside and play!


Blurry Vision Video

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Blurred vision can be caused by several different factors resulting in farsighted vision, nearsighted vision, or astigmatism. Learn more about what causes objects to appear blurry by watching this short video.