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Headaches From A Mild Traumatic Brain Injury? Your Eyes Could Be At Fault

Headaches From A Mild Traumatic Brain Injury? Your Eyes Could Be At Fault

A mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) is painful and immediately affects your daily quality of life. These effects should continue to dissipate as your brain heals. However, if you or a loved one is still experiencing symptoms even weeks after your mild head trauma, you may have developed another condition.  Let's review some common symptoms before moving on to possible secondary conditions and how to get the help you deserve.  

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

You likely experienced several traumatic brain injury symptoms immediately following the event. You may have symptoms in addition to those listed below. Pay close attention to symptom severity and persistence - relate all symptoms to medical professionals.

Physical Symptoms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Speech problems
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  Sensory Symptoms
  • Blurred vision, ear ringing, loss of ability to smell, or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Increased sensitivity to sound or light
  Mental, Behavioral, and Cognitive Symptoms
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping 
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Brief loss of consciousness or disorientation
Pay specific attention to symptoms that do not fade away. If they persist, you may have another health condition that the TBI brought on.

Conditions Caused By Traumatic Brain Injury

Be sure to see a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately after experiencing a blow that could lead to brain injuries. If your symptoms persist for more than a few weeks, you might have another condition or neurological disorder and should seek the help of a specialist.

PTSD After a traumatic brain injury, you could develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The onset of PTSD could be due to the trauma that caused your injury and exacerbated by the stress of dealing with symptoms and life changes afterward. Many people who have TBIs also develop PTSD.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head. These repetitive traumas cause proteins in the brain to malfunction, killing brain cells and harming brain function. It is most common among people in the military or those who play contact sports.

Memory Loss After experiencing a traumatic head injury, you may have trouble with things like remembering names, how to organize tasks, or other cognitive impairments. This type of memory loss is common following a TBI. The problem usually resolves itself over time, but you should see a specialist if it persists.

Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD) Traumatic brain injury can precipitate binocular vision dysfunction, which is a little-known medical condition caused by subtle misalignments of the eyes. This makes it very difficult for your brain to integrate the slightly misaligned images seen by each eye into the single image that you “see”. In an attempt to correct the misalignment, your eye muscles are over-utilized and strained.  These subtle eye misalignments can follow minor or moderate or severe TBI.  

Binocular Vision Dysfunction and Traumatic Brain Injury

You may bounce from doctor to doctor looking for answers when you have persistent symptoms from a traumatic brain injury. In actuality, you may have BVD, which is challenging to diagnose. Headaches and dizziness are common symptoms of BVD, so you should consider undergoing testing for it if they persist.

A traumatic brain injury can lead to multiple types of BVD. The suspected link is a disconnect between the visual (oculomotor) and the inner ear (vestibular) systems. These two systems must work in tandem for your eyes to operate properly.

If a TBI damages your vestibular system, it can lead to small misalignments of the eyes that can cause double vision. Your visual system recognizes this impending diplopia and directs the eye muscles to move the eyes back to their aligned positions. The damaged vestibular system then moves the eyes out of alignment again.

This cycle of misalignment and realignment strains the eye muscles and can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms. If you experience persistent symptoms following a TBI and other specialists haven't been able to help, you should seek treatment from a BVD specialist.

At Vision Specialists of Michigan, we specialize in diagnosing and treating BVD. After you fill out a specialized BVD questionnaire and a detailed health history form, we will test you for other eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.

We will then perform a specialized exam called a NeuroVisual Evaluation to determine if you have the subtle misalignments of the eyes causing your symptoms. Once you are diagnosed with BVD, we can treat you with special prism lenses to correct your vision.

Helpful Experts at Vision Specialists

You or your loved one shouldn't have to continue to live in pain following a traumatic brain injury. Our experts at Vision Specialists of Michigan are ready to help diagnose and treat you for BVD to improve your quality of life. If you suspect BVD, fill out our questionnaire to determine if you should seek our help.

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It may be your eyes

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  • American Academy Optometry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Michigan Optometric Association
  • VEDA
  • Neuro Optometry Rehabilitation Association