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4 Tips To Avoid a Traumatic Brain Injury

4 Tips To Avoid a Traumatic Brain Injury 640×350A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury to the brain caused by physical trauma, typically a sudden bump or blow to the head.

Concussions — a mild form of brain injury — are very common and represent approximately 80% of all TBI incidents. A concussion is a temporary loss of brain function caused by the brain bouncing around in fast motion within the skull, sometimes producing chemical changes or damaging the functioning of the brain cells.

Moderate to severe TBIs can cause loss of consciousness— from a few minutes to several hours.

Any TBI, whether mild or severe, can affect cognitive abilities and cause visual symptoms such as:

  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Weakened eye muscles

4 Tips for Avoiding a Traumatic Brain Injury

One of the best ways to protect yourself from a concussion or more serious TBI is to put safety first, whatever your activity.

Wear Protective Sports Gear

Approximately 69 million TBIs occur each year worldwide, of which about 50% are sports-related. Wearing protective eyewear and a helmet when playing baseball, football, basketball, hockey or any other sport, can help prevent serious injuries, especially in children.

Wear Sunglasses

Glare from the sun can temporarily blind you while driving, walking across the street — during any activity, really. Wearing sunglasses is a simple way to reduce glare and prevent glare-related accidents.

Polarized sunglasses filter intense light that reflects off surfaces like water, glass, sand, snow and pavement, preventing glare from entering your eyes. Make sure the sunglasses you choose also offer 100% UV protection. Photochromic lenses are a good choice for people who wear prescription glasses since they darken when outdoors and become clear again indoors.

Pay Attention To Your Surroundings

As basic as it may seem, people often fail to pay attention to their surroundings. When walking, driving, or doing any other activity, try to minimize distractions. Stand still while speaking on your cell phone or texting. When you’re walking outside, keep an eye out for sidewalk cracks as well as overhanging branches and other sharp items or debris that could be hazardous.

Don’t Forget to Wear Your Seatbelt

For years, parents and doctors have been drumming this into our heads, and for good reason! The #1 way to prevent or minimize an injury from a car accident is by wearing a seatbelt.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information National Library of Medicine, one-quarter of all TBIs in North America are caused by road accidents. Those numbers rise to more than 50% in Southeast Asia and Africa.

How a TBI Affects Vision

A traumatic brain injury can impair your vision, causing light sensitivity, double or blurry vision, and persistent eye strain. In many cases, activities like reading a book, driving a car or watching TV can become much more challenging — or impossible — as a result of a TBI.

According to Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 90% of TBI patients suffer from visual dysfunction, making it all the more crucial to take precautionary measures to stay safe.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Can Help With Brain Injuries

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation is a personalized treatment program for patients with visual deficits due to physical disabilities and TBIs. The goal of neuro-optometric rehab is to minimize visual disability so that a patient can continue to perform daily activities, whether it’s learning in a classroom or being able to function in the workplace.

A neuro-optometric rehabilitation optometrist evaluates many functions of the visual system, such as how the eyes work together. Treatment options may include the use of various filters and prisms, and visual exercises to strengthen the brain-eye connection.

If you or a loved one displays double vision, light sensitivity, dizziness or any other TBI-related visual or balance-related symptoms, contact Child and Family Vision Center immediately. Following evaluation, Dr. Erik Romsdahl may offer a customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to help regain any lost visual skills.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: What Does a Neuro-Optometrist Do?

A: A neuro-optometrist diagnoses general eye health problems and corrects refractive errors to improve visual acuity, as well as assess functional binocularity, spatial vision, and visual processing abilities.

Q: What causes a TBI?

A: Traumatic brain injuries can occur during everyday activities like walking, swimming, hiking, running or playing competitive sports.

The most common causes of TBIs are:

  • Being struck by an object
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports injuries


Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, all throughout Iowa.

 

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

3 Ways Neuro-Optometry Can Help Stroke Survivors

3 Ways Neuro Optometry Can Help Stroke Survivors 640Approximately 15 million people around the globe suffer from a stroke each year. An alarming two-thirds of stroke survivors experience some degree of visual dysfunction after the incident.

These problems can range from irritating to debilitating and can seriously affect a person’s quality of life and ability to function.

Thankfully, there is hope for stroke survivors who suffer from stroke-related vision problems.

At Child and Family Vision Center, we are dedicated to helping post-stroke patients heal their visual system for long-lasting relief and a better quality of life.

Below, we’ll explore how a stroke can impact vision and what a neuro-optometrist can do to help.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when insufficient oxygen is delivered to the brain tissue, either due to leaking or bursting blood vessels, or a blockage within the blood vessel.

Serious brain damage can occur within minutes of a stroke, making early intervention crucial.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Paralysis
  • Numb or weak limbs
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Trouble walking
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination

Because a large portion of the brain is involved with vision, a stroke can also affect the eyes and visual processing.

How a Stroke Can Affect Vision

If a stroke occurs in the areas of the brain that control the eye, it can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Visual field loss
  • Double vision
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nystagmus — rapid, uncontrolled eye movements

When a stroke affects the areas of the brain responsible for visual processing, it can cause:

  • Visual neglect — when the patient ignores stimuli from a portion of their visual field
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Poor depth and movement perception
  • Difficulty recognizing objects or people

3 Ways a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help Stroke Survivors

1. Identify and Diagnose Any Visual Dysfunction

A neuro-optometrist has the training and experience required to thoroughly identify, diagnose and treat even slight visual dysfunction that may be causing symptoms.

Your neuro-optometrist will perform a functional visual evaluation to assess neurological vision-related complications and identify the type of vision loss caused by the stroke.

 

2. Rehabilitate the Visual System

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy includes visual exercises that retrain the brain and eyes to work together.

During a stroke, certain neural connections may become damaged. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation aims to restore those connections and heal the visual system for long-lasting results.

3. Prescribe the Correct Lenses or Prisms, As Needed

A neuro-optometrist can prescribe specialized lenses or prisms that aid in the therapeutic process. Prism lenses shift images into the functioning part of a patient’s visual field, or, in the case of double vision or visual neglect, unite the images the two eyes are sending to the brain. In some cases, prisms can instantly relieve symptoms like disorientation or double vision.

Some patients only visit an occupational therapist or physical therapist after a stroke—and while these therapies are often necessary and helpful, they cannot treat the visual system or prescribe prisms.

How We Can Help

Stroke survivors deserve the best in rehabilitative care. That’s why we are passionate about restoring their independence and offering relief from incapacitating visual symptoms.

Furthermore, neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy offers the added benefit of diminishing vertigo and depression and increasing confidence levels.

If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, we can help. To schedule your functional visual evaluation, contact Child and Family Vision Center today.

Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, all throughout Iowa.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: #1: Other than stroke patients, who can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help any person suffering from visual dysfunction after a head injury, traumatic brain injury or stroke, or anyone with neurological conditions that impact their vision. If you experience any symptoms associated with visual dysfunction like dizziness, disorientation, headaches, nausea or difficulty concentrating— it may be time to visit your neuro-optometrist.

Q: #2: Can neuro-optometry help if the stroke occurred months or years ago?

  • A: The best time to start treatment is as soon as possible following a stroke or head injury, but treatment can also be effective years later. The basis of neuro-optometry is neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change and build new neural connections. As long as a person is alive, there is potential to heal their visual system.


Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

3 Causes of Lazy Eye in Children

3 Causes of Lazy Eye in Children 640Amblyopia, commonly known as ‘lazy eye,’ is a neuro-developmental vision condition that begins in early childhood, usually before the age of 8.

Lazy eye develops when one eye is unable to achieve normal visual acuity, causing blurry vision in the affected eye—even when wearing glasses. Left untreated, amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss in one eye.

It’s important to understand that a lazy eye isn’t actually lazy. Rather, the brain doesn’t process the visual signals from the ‘lazy’ eye. Eventually, the communication between the brain and the weaker eye deteriorates further, potentially leading to permanently reduced vision in that eye. Fortunately, vision therapy can improve the condition by training the brain to work with both eyes equally.

What Causes Lazy Eye?

When the neural connections between the eyes and the brain are healthy, each eye sends a visual signal to the brain. The brain combines these two signals into one clear image, allowing us to properly see what we are looking at.

In the case of amblyopia, the brain doesn’t recognize the weaker eye’s signals. Instead, it relies only on the visual input from the stronger eye.

Amblyopia can be caused by strabismus, anisometropia and deprivation.

Strabismus

Strabismus occurs when the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. The most common cause of amblyopia is eye misalignment, which causes the brain to receive two images that cannot be combined into one single, clear image.

A child’s developing brain cannot process images when both eyes are not aligned in the same direction, so it ‘turns off’ the images sent by the weaker eye. This is the brain’s defense mechanism against confusion and double vision.

As the brain ‘turns off’ the weaker eye, this eye will eventually become ‘lazy’—unless treatment is provided.

Anisometropia

Anisometropia is when the refractive powers (visual acuity) of your eyes differ markedly, causing your eyes to focus unevenly – rendering the visual signal from one eye to be much clearer than the other. The brain is unable to reconcile the different images each eye sends and chooses to process the visual signal from the eye sending the clearer image. The brain begins to overlook the eye sending the blurrier image, further weakening the eye-brain connection of the weaker eye. If not treated, this results in permanent poor vision in that eye.

Deprivation

Deprivation refers to a blockage or cloudiness of the eye. When an eye becomes cloudy, it directly impacts the eyes’ ability to send a clear image to the retina, harming the child’s ability to see images clearly from that eye. When clear images can’t reach the retina, it causes poor vision in that eye, resulting in amblyopia. Deprivation is by far the most serious kind of amblyopia, but it is also incredibly rare.

There are several types of deprivation: cataracts, cloudy corneas, cloudy lenses and eyelid tumors. Each of these can affect a child’s vision, resulting in amblyopia. Because these are also difficult to notice from a child’s behavior, it’s crucial to have your child tested for eye-related problems so that treatment can begin right away.

How To Treat Amblyopia

The goal of most amblyopia treatments is to naturally strengthen the weaker eye so that your child’s eyes can work and team with the brain more effectively. Amblyopia treatment will be determined by the cause and severity of their condition.

Common types of treatment include:

  • Corrective eyewear
  • Eye drops
  • Patching
  • Vision Therapy

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is the most effective treatment for amblyopia, which may be used in conjunction with other treatments.

A vision therapy program is customized to the specific needs of the patient. It may include the use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, and other specialized equipment designed to actively make the lazy eye work to develop stronger communication between the eye and the brain.

Vision therapy is highly successful for the improvement of binocular vision, visual acuity, visual processing abilities, depth perception and reading fluency.

Vision therapy programs for amblyopia may include eye exercises to improve these visual skills:

  • Accommodation (focusing)
  • Binocular vision (the eyes working together)
  • Fixation (visual gaze)
  • Pursuits (eye-tracking)
  • Saccades (eye jumps)
  • Spatial skills (eye-hand coordination)
  • Stereopsis (3-D vision)

Contact Child and Family Vision Center to make an appointment and discover how vision therapy can help improve your child’s vision. Our eye doctor will ask about your child’s vision history, conduct a thorough evaluation, and take your child on the path to effective and lasting treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: How do I know if my child has lazy eye?

  • A: It’s difficult to recognize lazy eye because the condition usually develops in one eye, and may not present with a noticeable eye turn. As such, children generally learn how to ignore the lazy eye and compensate by mainly relying on the sight from the ‘good’ eye. Some symptoms of lazy eye include:
  • – Closing one eye or squinting
    – Difficulty with fine eye movements
    – Poor depth perception
    – Poor eye-hand coordination
    – Reduced reading speed and comprehension
    – Rubbing eyes often

Q: How is lazy eye diagnosed?

  • A: Your child’s eye doctor will conduct specific tests during their eye exam, to assess the visual acuity, depth perception and visual skills of each eye.


Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, all throughout Iowa.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

4 Ways Vision May Be Affected Following A Stroke

headache womanAbout 2 in 3 stroke survivors live with some degree of visual dysfunction following the stroke. Although all brains are different and everybody reacts differently, 4 major categories of vision loss can be caused by a stroke.

A stroke can damage any segment of the neural pathway that connects the eyes to the brain or a section of the brain that processes the images the eyes send it. Damage to either area can lead to vision loss.

Stroke-related vision problems can make daily living a challenge, but there is hope for stroke survivors who suffer from visual symptoms.

In honor of World Stroke Awareness Month, we’ll explore 4 types of stroke-related visual problems, and how Child and Family Vision Center can help.

1. Visual Field Loss

A stroke can damage certain areas of the brain responsible for either central or peripheral vision, causing a portion of the visual field to be lost, causing vision to be ‘blacked-out’ or have ‘blind spots.’

In most cases, the same area of the visual field is lost in both eyes. This condition is called homonymous visual field loss, meaning a person may not be able to see the right or left side of their visual field from each eye.

Affected individuals may have difficulty with reading and may bump into things located in their blind spots.

2. Visual Processing Difficulties

Sometimes, a person may be able to see everything in their visual field but will have problems processing that visual information. For example, they may have the ability to see another person’s face, but might not recognize it. They may also have difficulty identifying or interacting with common objects, affecting daily tasks such as making a cup of coffee.

Visual neglect is the most common type of visual processing problem. People with this condition aren’t aware that they aren’t seeing people or objects on the right or left side of their visual field.

3. Eye Movement Problems

A stroke can damage the delicate nerves that control the eyes’ movements. A person who cannot control their eye nerves may have difficulty moving their eyes in order to shift their focus from one object to the next or have trouble tracking moving objects.

Nystagmus (involuntary and rapid eye movements) is also a possible complication of ocular nerve damage.

If only one eye is affected, the patient will usually experience double or blurred vision. Whether one or both eyes are affected, poor depth perception can result from eye movement dysfunction.

4. Dry Eye Syndrome

Stroke-related muscle weakness is common, especially in the eyes and face. If this occurs, the eyelids may not be able to fully close during blinking or while asleep. This can lead to dry eye syndrome, causing symptoms like red, itchy, watery, burning eyes and light sensitivity.

Fortunately, many of these post-stroke visual symptoms are treatable with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

A customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy program can help you return to your normal routine, or at least make daily life less challenging.

If you or a loved one have suffered a stroke, speak with Dr. Erik Romsdahl about getting your vision evaluated to identify deficiencies in the visual system. If a problem is found, we’ll help guide you through all of your treatment options for the best possible outcome.

To schedule your appointment or to learn more about what we offer, call Child and Family Vision Center today.

serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, Polk City, and throughout Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: #1: What is neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy is a tailor-made program of visual exercises that train the eyes and brain to work together. Treatment can also include specialized lenses, prisms, and filters.

Q: #2: What other conditions can neuro-optometric rehabilitation treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometry can help patients with visual problems due to traumatic brain injury, stroke, physical disabilities and neurological conditions. A neuro-optometrist can help treat binocular vision disorders (BVD), strabismus, diplopia, oculomotor dysfunction, accommodation and convergence problems, and traumatic visual acuity loss.


Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541