There are 2 main types of brain injuries: traumatic and non-traumatic. Both types of brain injuries are potentially serious, and should be treated immediately to reduce the risk of permanent harm to the brain, including the fragile visual system.
At Eye Health Centre in St. Albert , we treat visual problems caused by traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries using neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, result from an external force impacting the head.
The most common causes of TBIs include:
- Physical assaults
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
TBIs can either be closed (where the skull is not penetrated) or open (where the skull is cracked). Concussions are one type of TBI.
What is a Non-Traumatic Brain Injury?
In contrast to TBIs, non-traumatic brain injuries aren't caused by a physical blow to the head but rather by factors inside the body. Examples include:
- Oxygen deprivation due to a heart attack or stroke
- Brain tumor
- Meningitis and other infectious diseases that affect the brain
- Strangulation or suffocation
- Hemorrhagic brain injury
How Do Brain Injuries Impact Vision?
Did you know that seeing clearly and comfortably requires using over half the brain? That’s why visual problems are so common after any type of brain injury.
Around 90% of patients who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury have lingering visual symptoms, even weeks or months after the event. The most common visual problems associated with brain injuries include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Headaches and eye pain
- Visual field loss
- Eye movement problems
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye strain and eye fatigue
- Difficulty reading
- Visual memory loss
- Motion sensitivity that can cause dizziness, nausea
These visual symptoms often take a back seat to life-threatening medical concerns immediately after a brain injury. Yet left untreated, they can become chronic and debilitating and can significantly impact not only your vision but your quality of life and productivity at work or school.
That’s where neuro-optometry comes in.
How Can a Neuro-Optometrist Help?
A neuro-optometrist can help restore either partial or total visual functioning to patients who’ve suffered from brain injuries and other neurological conditions. Neuro-optometrists develop a personalized treatment regimen to bring back your clear and comfortable vision
By stimulating the areas of the brain that aren’t functioning optimally, a neuro-optometrist helps the patient’s brain retrain its neural connections to strengthen the coordination between the eyes and the brain.
Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy uses therapeutic lenses and prisms and incorporates highly customized visual exercises to improve the patient’s daily functioning.
This form of visual rehabilitation is evidence-based in restoring visual, perceptual and oculomotor functioning.
If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury, whether recently or some time ago, we can help. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, contact Eye Health Centre in St. Albert today!
Our practice serves patients from St. Albert, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, and Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and surrounding communities.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Sophie Jobin
Q: How long does neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy take?
A: Because each case is unique, there is no standard length of treatment. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can take weeks, months, and sometimes years, depending on the patient’s condition, visual goals and response to treatment. Your eye doctor will customize a treatment plan suited to your specific needs.
Q: Do all optometrists offer neuro-optometric rehabilitation?
A: No. Neuro-optometry requires specialized post-graduate training after receiving a Doctor of Optometry degree that includes education on the neuro-visual system and how to diagnose and treat neurological conditions that impact your eyes and visual system.