Quick Facts

  • 20-40 percent of individuals with a brain injury will experience vision problems
  • Vision problems may be permanent or may go away quickly
  • Difficulties that may occur following a brain injury include:
    • Visual acuity loss: blurred vision
    • Visual field loss: double vision, also known as diplopia
    • Nystagmus: involuntary rhythmic shaking of the eyes
    • Fluctuating vision: may be able to see something one day then not the next
    • Strabismus: eyes do not look at the same point at the same time
    • Blindness: complete blindness as a result of brain injury is rare

What does it
look like?

    • Eyes may tear up
    • Headaches
    • Sore eyes, eyes feel like they are “pulling”
    • Vertigo or nausea
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Difficulty judging distances, bumping into things or people
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability in places where there may be a lot of visual stimuli

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Injury to the eye and/or the nerves that carry signals from the eye to the brain
  • Injury to the neurons that communicate between different parts of the brain
  • Damage to the visual cortex

Possible complications:

  • Reading difficulties and comprehension challenges
  • Loss of a driver’s license or driving difficulties
  • Social isolation, fear of crowded places
  • Ongoing headaches

What can we do?

To help with sensitivity to light:

  • Wear sunglasses both inside and outside if necessary, wear eye patch as prescribed
  • Wear tinted glasses indoors or outdoors as prescribed by vision therapist
  • Use natural light or non-glare/non-fluorescent lighting when possible
  • Take breaks often when involved in tasks/activities that rely on vision (i.e. reading)
  • Avoid visual overload by cutting down on the clutter in the home

To help with visual acuity loss:

  • Use large print, a magnifying glass, and increase font size on the computer
  • Increase contrast of text and on screens
    • Write with a thick black pen on white background
    • Use dark background with light objects, or light background with dark objects

To help with visual field loss:

  • Scan the environment by moving the head back and forth

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.