Vision Problems Remain an Under Recognized Concussion Symptom

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Double Vision

Source: Amy Elyse

One of the biggest challenges health care professionals face when diagnosing concussions is the lack of objective diagnostic methods available. While new tools are coming out that aim to improve the objectivity of the traditional concussion tests, they still largely rely on the same techniques we have had for years. These new tests measure cognitive ability, memory, and response time in much the same way doctors have been, but they help remove the possibility of human error.

The other problem doctors deal with is concussions do not all look the same. There are a wide variety of symptoms that appear in different configurations and severity depending on the person. While one patient may cite headaches as their primary symptom, another may deal with dizziness or nausea. The entire list of symptoms from the Mayo Clinic includes:

  • Headache, or feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or foggy feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression

Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic doesn’t report another common symptom reported by many brain injury patients which can be particularly debilitating. Vision problems such as seeing words running together on the page, perceiving stationary objects as moving, and double vision are frequently reported by concussion and TBI patients. Even worse, when these people visit an optometrist or opthamologist they are usually told their eyes are in fine shape. The problem is in their brain.

Complimenting these types of vision problems, many patients also report increased light sensitivity which can make trying to continue their day-to-day life difficult. Driving can become dangerous, and reading can be nearly impossible. These problems can be solved however.

Through a combination of allowing yourself to properly heal and a program for vision therapy, vision issues can be resolved to nearly the same state as before the injury.

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One Response to Vision Problems Remain an Under Recognized Concussion Symptom

  1. Bill Lastinger December 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    I had a closed head injury two and a half years ago when I fell backwards off a roof and hit horizontally. I was knocked out for about six minutes, and my girlfriend drove me to the hospital where the did a CT scan and said there was no bleeding on the brain. This happened Friday evening and my manager had me go see a doctor to approve me returning to work since it was a workman’s comp claim. I drove myself to lunch Saturday and church Sunday, and to the doctor Monday. I was feeling more and more dizzy and the doctor sent me to a neurologist the next day. By then I had vertigo and was throwing up and was having severe headaches, and sensitivity to light, and my eyes had a constant jumping up to the right and back down of whatever was in my vision field. I was surprised to find when I went to my regular eye doctor that this was not visible to the doctor and was only in my brain and not in the eyes themselves. These are the symptoms I described: 1. I felt as if I was sitting in a canoe on a still lake but that there was a slight movement of the water constantly making me go up and down and slightly sideways as the canoe floated on the water. 2. I constantly had a jumping in both eyes at whatever I was looking at and it was as if I was looking at a projector screen and someone bumped the table on which the projector was sitting and did so every two seconds making the vision area constantly jump. 3. Besides that I always felt like I was falling forward and was dizzy. Over the first year and a half the symptoms partially settled down to what it has been the last year. The canoe feeling of up and down and sideways motion has decreased from 100% to about 45% and it is that way all the time. It is more noticeable the closer I try to look at something such as a book or newspaper or television. It wears me out so I just read about 15 or 20 minutes and have to stop because I read slower. The constant jumping up and to the right finally stopped and it is at about 20% all the time. Now it seems more to be a pulsating sensation almost like you are moving your head closer and further away slightly as you are looking at something. This also makes me dizzy when I am standing still or sitting still, except for when I am driving. I guess because there is slight movement was the car goes down the road, and because I shirt my eyes and vision every one or two seconds and do not stare at one spot like when I am trying to read, then the sensation for the constant motion is masked by the car movement and looking out down the road instead of close at a book or computer. I was sent to two neuro-ophthamologist at Shands and three neurologist at three different hospitals under my workmans comp claim but they all found nothing wrong with my vision and even doubted my symptoms saying they never heard of it ever in their practice. I would not make this up and they wrote they could find no nystagmus, which I did not have because the eyeballs did not move. I did have blurry and double vision for the first couple of weeks but that went away, but not the other symptoms. Surly with all the head injuries that occur every year there are other patients who have my same issues. I resent having these doctors treat me like I am making up these symptoms to keep me from working. I am about to turn 64 in 3 months and along with the eye issues I have balance issues and short term memory loss that has improved to about 60% of where I was prior to my fall. So where I am now is my maximum medical improvement and I guess I have to live with the conditions. I want to know if there is a name for the condition I have for these symptoms and if anything can be done about it. This condition does prevent me from working and I am not working due to these issues and well as four bulging disc in my back. I appreciate any information that you have on this. Thanks Bill Lastinger

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