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Vision Assessment Important to TBI Care

Concussion can cause changes to vision that are sometimes overlooked during an initial medical evaluation. Vision experts stress that eye exams should be part of the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

“Service members exposed to a blast [exposure] may have brain injury, which may affect eye coordination, even when vision is 20/20,” said Felix Barker, associate director of research for the Vision Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Maryland.

Because a patient’s vision may not be affected at first, and issues such as bumping into objects or having double vision may seem subtle, providers and patients may not realize vision is a problem, he said.

“Undiagnosed, such ‘invisible’ eye problems can interfere with near tasks such as reading, which, in turn, can be confused with TBI issues, such as cognitive dysfunction,” Barker said.

To help eye care providers diagnose and treat eye problems associated with a concussion, the Vision Center of Excellence created a clinical recommendation and support tools for eye problems following a TBI. This clinical tool offers a practical approach to help identify patients with mild TBI who may benefit from further assessment and care. There is also an educational brochure for patients.