The brain controls everything we say, do, think and feel. A BRAIN INJURY can result from a motor vehicle accident, a fall or stroke. In fact anything that disrupts the function of the brain can result in a brain injury.
Up to 40% of people with brain injuries or strokes experience vision-related disorders even when their eyes are unharmed. This is because the eyeball and its structures are usually not affected in a brain injury but the brain connections and nerves that control vision are easily disrupted.
Some of the symptoms following brain injury can include:
Reduced field of vision
Loss of balance
Feeling overwhelmed in new or busy environments
These symptoms turn everyday tasks into a challenge. An affected person may lose their ability to drive, struggle to read and lose their eye-hand coordination. In fact, brain injury has been called the “silent epidemic” because public awareness of brain injury is extremely low despite the staggering number of people who are injured each year.
CORTICAL VISION IMPAIRMENT
Our brain is like complex computer that stores information throughout our lifetime. It is a library of facts, memories and experiences. A Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) is a is a vision impairment as a result of a large, wide-spread brain injury such as a hypoxic event (lack of oxygen to the brain). A CVI can also result from severe infection, pre-term birth, growth abnormalities as well as accident or physical trauma.
Traditional vision impairments occur due to problems with the eyes. A person with CVI may have both an eye impairment as well as an affected brain. Oftentimes the eyes may be completely normal while the brain struggles to interpret and make sense of images seen. This is because the brain regions necessary for vision have been damaged.
When these vision centers of the brain are affected, visual information is chaotic, confusing and does not make sense. The child sees a kaleidoscope of vision and colour. Because visual information is confusing and overwhelming, these children tend to “switch-off” and stare at lights.
With motivation, time and effort on the part of carers, CVI individuals can be assisted in seeing. It is important for parents and carers to remember that people with CVI need to learn how to use and interpret visual information. Certain visual areas have been damaged or affected in patients with CVI but new connections can be made. When the visual world is made simpler and more accessible, learning and progress can take place. Huge improvements through the various phases of CVI can take place with the correct interventions.
THE NEURO OPTOMETRIC EVALUATION
Brain injuries are traumatic and overwhelming for patients and their families. The good news is that there are tools and strategies that can help. Eyetek is part of NORA, an international Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association, (NORA), a group of committed individuals from various disciplines whose focus is on advancing the art and science of rehabilitation for the neurologically challenged patient.
During a Neuro-Optometric Evaluation at Eyetek Weltevredenpark and Illovo, we use various techniques and strategies to assist patients with a wide variety of vision problems after a neurological insult.