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Q & A: About Brain Injury and Vision

What exactly is a brain injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury or Acquired Brain Injury is an insult to the brain. I could be a physical injury to the head, stroke, or neurological dysfunction. It can impair the ability to think or to integrate information from different senses. These problems are treatable by a special type of Vision Therapy, Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation.

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What are signs of a brain injury?

People with a brain injury frequently have visual problems such as seeing words in print run together, pr blurred vision when reading. Objects may seem to to be moving. The floor may appear tilted. Individual may have significant difficulties with balance and spatial orientation, especially when in crowded moving environments.

It is common for people who have these problems to be told by their eye doctor (optometrists and ophthalmologists) that their problems are not in their eyes and that their eyes are healthy. Their symptoms are ignored or sometimes viewed with suspicion.

The reason that even eye doctors have difficulty diagnosing and treating this is because vision occurs in the brain and not in the eyes. This is exactly why a brain injury causes all of these vision problems.

Sensitivity to light and difficulty tolerating normal glare is also a common symptom. The brain is not able to adjust to different levels of brightness. It is as if one had a radio and the volume control was broken and could not make the adjustments you normally do to control loudness.

Many of these vision problems are solved through a program of Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation therapy that enables the individual to regain skills that were damaged.

Does a brain injury affect one’s ability to read?

Yes. When someone suffers a brain injury, it affects the speed of eye movements when reading, and that then affects the ability to absorb the information that was read. The ReadAlyzer, a highly sophisticated eye tracking instrument, measures eye movements while reading, such as his the number of words read per minute and the efficiency of reading.

You can view a thorough presentation by Dr. Roth on Concussion & Brain Injury. The 2 part series can be found here.

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