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Can a Concussion Cause Blurred Vision?

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An older man with his hand on his head due to blurry vision

A concussion, defined as a traumatic brain injury, involves the head and the brain. The visible signs include a bump, bruising, or a cut. There can also be no visible signs of a concussion. 

Concussions can occur in infants, the elderly, and everyone in between. They occur when the head undergoes trauma by sustaining a violent jolt or blow. Many people can experience blurring or double vision as part of their concussion recovery process. 

This article will discuss possible risks in eyesight after suffering a concussion and provide information on symptoms, prevention methods, and treatment. 

What Is a Concussion?

A head injury or a concussion is a blow to the head that causes your brain to move around. Trauma, either from sports-related injuries, car and bike accidents, or falls, may cause bruising or bleeding in the brain. Even shaking a baby can lead to a concussion! 

A strong enough hit to the body can also cause the head to jerk, resulting in a concussion. Chemical changes occur in the brain as nerves and blood vessels bruise. These changes result in temporary loss of brain function.  

The severity of a concussion varies from person to person, and there is no permanent damage from experiencing only one. Concussions may not be life-threatening, but they can lead to a host of symptoms and eye problems.

Blurred Vision from a Concussion

A concussion can cause blurry or double vision (diplopia), among other symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Drowsiness 
  • Feeling sluggish

Blurred vision is a common symptom after a concussion due to damaged nerves and muscles around the eye. One of the functions of the brain is to control eye movement. When both eyes coordinate and move inward to focus on an object, it is called convergence.  

After a concussion, one or both eyes move outward instead of inward. This is called convergence insufficiency and results in blurred or double vision. Other cognitive problems stemming from blurred vision include loss of balance, dizziness, or lightheadedness. 

A blurry image of the inside of a building

Symptoms Associated with Blurred Vision

Symptoms can develop within minutes of a concussion or several hours after. The group of symptoms resulting from brain damage that affects the visual system is called post-trauma vision syndrome (PTVS). 

Some people who have suffered concussions only experience blurry vision when focusing on something or shifting focus, for example:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty reading
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Problems with peripheral vision
  • Problems with visual perception

If you’ve suffered a head injury and are experiencing blurry vision or other symptoms of a concussion, wearing sunglasses can keep the eyes protected, reduce the risk of further eye damage, and help combat the decreased light sensitivity that occurs after brain trauma.

How Are Concussions with Blurred Vision Treated

Treating blurred vision after a concussion depends on the severity of the symptoms. There are different treatments available if you have a concussion. 

For example, the first advice is to lie down and rest or take medicine to help your brain recover by reducing the swelling. Drinking lots of water, taking a break from strenuous activity, refraining from driving, avoiding alcohol and bright lights, and resting your brain by minimizing time on electronics are other standard approaches. 

Once the swelling goes down, the part of the brain that controls eye movement can regain its functionality. However, if you are still experiencing blurry vision after several weeks, it’s time to see an eye doctor. 

Eye Exam

Eye exams assess overall visual function, such as misalignment of the eyes and eye movement accuracy.

Vision Therapy

Also called vision training, it helps you improve your ability to see objects. Vision therapy for blurred vision usually involves lenses or colored filters that limit the amount of light exposure. 

Vision therapy consists of activities and exercises designed to reteach your eyes on how to process visual information. In addition, it helps strengthen the communication between the brain and the eyes. This therapy benefits both children and adults and for treating people who have:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain 
  • Headaches 
  • Light sensitivity

Book an appointment and let Perspective Eye Care create a customized treatment plan to help improve your blurred vision. 

Written by Dr. Stephen M. Gross

Dr. Gross earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama in 1977 and his Doctorate in Optometry in 1981. He is licensed in Alabama and holds a membership in the Alabama Optometric Association and American Optometric Association. Dr. Gross has more than 35 years of experience in the optometry field, and he specializes in specialty contact lenses, myopia control, Ortho-K, and scleral lenses.
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