Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Traumatic brain injury often results in convergence insufficiency. But could there be more vision problems?

Brain injuries and vision problems.
Traumatic brain injury often results in convergence insufficiency.  But could there be more vision problems?  That is the question that researchers investigated in a recent study published in Optometry & Vision Science.

The researchers looked at the medical records of 557 brain injury patients and assessed the visual acuity, oculomotor function, binocular vision function, accommodation, visual fields, ocular health, and vestibular function for each patient.

Only 9% of the TBI brain injury patients had convergence insufficiency without the following simultaneous diagnoses: saccade or pursuit dysfunction; third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerve palsy; visual field deficit; visual spatial inattention/neglect; vestibular dysfunction; or nystagmus.

It was far more common for the brain injury patients to have convergence insufficiency with other vision problems.  Here are some examples:

  • Photophobia (light sensitivity) together with convergence insufficiency was observed in 16.3% (21 of 130), 
  • vestibular dysfunction together with convergence insufficiency was observed in 18.5% (24 of 130) 
  • Convergence insufficiency and cranial nerve palsies were present in 23.3% (130 of 557) and 26.9% (150 of 557), respectively

Other vision disorders were also present.   Accommodative dysfunction was common, as were visual field deficits or unilateral visual spatial inattention/neglect.

The study findings support the idea that patients who have suffered a traumatic brain injury need a comprehensive eye exam that tests for a wide variety of vision problems.  Where visual problems are found to result from a brain injury, vision therapy is an effective treatment. 

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net