Vision Loss: Its Relation To Traumatic Brain Injury

Categories: Brain Injury

Visually impaired man

Suffering any type of head trauma can be severe. When your head hits an object in a car accident or during a slip and fall, it can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even mild traumatic brain injuries can have long-lasting effects, including vision and hearing issues. If you suffered a head injury, it’s essential to understand vision loss and its relation to a traumatic brain injury.

If your brain injury resulted from someone else’s negligence, you could have the right to bring a personal injury claim. To learn more about your rights, speak with a Washington brain injury attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC.

Can a Traumatic Brain Injury Lead to Vision Loss?

Not everyone who sustains a traumatic brain injury will have vision loss. However, it can happen to some people. Neurological damage affects people differently. Some people may sustain hearing loss or have difficulty speaking, while others experience problems with their vision. It may be temporary blurred vision, or you could lose your sight entirely if the damage is severe enough.

Even if your eyes are perfectly fine after an accident, brain damage could cause vision changes or even blindness. Vision is a two-part process. The first part is when light enters the cornea and pupil, hitting the retina. The retina is at the rear of your eyeball and absorbs light. It creates an image of what you see, sending that image to the optic nerve.

Once it reaches the optic nerve, the second part takes over. Your optic nerve transports this image to your brain and the cerebral cortex, which is at the rear of your head. Your cerebral cortex is responsible for processing the image details. Your optic nerve is also communicating with your brain stem, which controls your eye movements and squinting. This process is constantly happening, which is what allows you to understand details of your environment immediately.

If you sustain a brain injury, you should see a doctor right away. Your brain interprets images and controls eye movements. With a severe brain injury, trauma can result in vision loss.

When you seek emergency room treatment following an accident, your medical provider can conduct diagnostic testing to assess your injuries better. They can determine whether there is any internal bleeding or whether you might need surgery. Diagnostic studies can show whether there is any cerebral cortex damage and how that impacts your sight.

If you have immediate complaints about your vision, they may check your optic nerve to determine whether there is any nerve damage from a tear or compression. The doctor may also conduct a Confrontation Visual Field Test (CVFT) to assess your peripheral vision and check whether your eye registers light.

Types of Vision Loss with a Traumatic Brain Injury

There are different types of vision problems you can encounter after a traumatic brain injury. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Blurry or double vision;
  • Difficulty focusing on letters or objects;
  • Light sensitivity;
  • Trouble seeing in low light;
  • Reduced peripheral vision;
  • Difficulty with moving your eyes;
  • Split vision; or
  • Blindness.

Any vision problems can wreak havoc on your life. It can impact your ability to work, go to school, complete household tasks, etc. You may suddenly find yourself unable to return to your job, attend your college courses, and more. Your doctors will be able to share more details on your prognosis and discuss possible treatment options for your brain injury.

Vision loss can be categorized in two main ways—visual acuity loss and visual field loss. Visual acuity deals with your vision clarity. If you typically wear prescription glasses and you take them off, you will lose some visual acuity. Brain injuries can cause minimal visual acuity loss, or they can be significant.

With visual field loss, the damage will be categorized by what part is damaged. These are the main types of visual field loss:

  • Hemianopsia: This indicates you only have half of your visual field (either vertical or horizontal).
  • Homonymous hemianopsia: The same quarter or half of your visual field loss is gone in both eyes.
  • Quadranopsia: This refers to a quarter of your visual field being lost.
  • Bitemporal hemianopsia: This is when you suffer loss of either the inner half or the outer half of your left and right visual field.

Hemianopsia and quadranopsia are the two most common types of visual field loss. Nerve fiber damage is what leads to visual field loss. When these fibers are damaged, they can’t carry visual signals between the eyes and visual cortex. It’s not unheard of for someone with a traumatic brain injury to have both types of visual loss. It’s also not uncommon for someone to suffer from both visual acuity loss and visual field loss.

Are TBI-Related Vision Problems Temporary or Permanent?

It’s impossible to say whether vision problems will be temporary or permanent. Brain injuries affect people in different ways. There are no two injuries that are exactly alike. Your doctors may not want to commit to answering whether your vision loss is temporary or permanent right away either. In many cases, it’s not possible to determine the extent of visual damage until part of the way through your recovery.

Who Is Responsible for Your Vision Loss?

If your brain injury was caused by another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions, then you could have the legal right to pursue damages from the responsible parties. However, these types of claims can be complicated to pursue. We highly recommend discussing your brain injury with an experienced injury lawyer who has handled similar cases in the past.

At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner PLLC, we have ample experience dealing with traumatic brain injury claims. We understand what a challenging and frustrating time this is for both you and your family. You don’t need to go through this alone. Instead, let us protect your rights and help you fight for the compensation you are owed. We have years of experience with traumatic brain injuries and have won six- and seven-figure settlements and verdicts. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.