THE EYE TEST:

THE IMPORTANCE OF VISION & CONCUSSION

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Concussions are a hot topic for discussion due to the high incidence of athletes of all sports.  The CDC defines a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This type of injury causes stretching and compression of tissues and axons in the brain.

So what does this all have to do with vision? Sight (20/20) is usually not compromised after a concussion, but functional vision CAN BE affected. This means an individual may still have 20/20 sight, but their functional visual skills are compromised enough to provoke symptoms.

Functional vision skills include:

  • Eye Tracking - This is the ability to keep your eyes fixated accurately on an object or target. Most important skill for successful reading.
  • Eye Focusing - The eye contains a lens that actually changes shape as the focus is shifted from distance to near and vice versa. 
  • Eye Teaming - The fact that we have two eyes means that they have to be continually pointed at the same spot. Eye teaming position changes in the form of convergence and divergence when an object is moving towards or away. 

While physical symptoms of a concussion can be obvious, disruption to the visual system is not commonly recognized. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include headache, blurry and/or double vision, difficulties with eye movements. dizziness, fogginess (“brain fog”), impaired memory, sensitivity to light and/or noise, problems with balance, poor concentration, and processing speed. Some symptoms can arise immediately following the injury. while others can have a delayed onset. 

The five-step process includes:

  1. Rest and recovery
  2. Light aerobic exercise
  3. Continued aerobic exercise/strength training
  4. Football specific activities
  5. Full football activity/clearance

It is important to be mindful of how functional visual skills could be compromised after incurring a concussion. Given the testing and training that Vizual Edge can provide, this software may be helpful in providing a means to regain lost visual skills.

Alyssa Wisler, COVT
Certified Optometric Vision Therapist

Seifert, K. (2017, December 11). How is the NFL concussion protocol supposed to work? Retrieved October 5, 2019, from https://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/261317/how-is-the-nfl-concussion-protocol-supposed-to-work.

What Is a Concussion? | HEADS UP | CDC Injury Center. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_whatis.html.

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