Pediatric sports medicine specialist, Christina Master, has been conducting clinical research on children with concussions in her practice at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Her findings have revealed that certain vision issues occur in children following concussion. What they are discovering is that these issues often extend beyond visual acuity problems.
Quite often kids who have experienced a concussion also have oculomotor issues. Dr. Master and her team have developed a series of tests that can help assess oculomotor function including smooth pursuits, saccades, and convergence. To see this testing in action, check out her video. Taking this more thorough approach to the eye exam has shown that young people with concussions are often very sensitive to motion and vestibular stimuli, especially from busy and active environments.
Some kids report having issues in school with respect to the many devices and tools they use to consume information. Continuously looking back and forth between notebooks, monitors, tablets and Smartboards can quite often cause discomfort such as headaches and dizziness. This could be due to oculomotor issues but many of them seem to be related to binocular visual function, in particular convergence insufficiency. In this situation kids experience difficulty focusing from far to near then near to far. In a school setting, these challenges can present problems. Educators and parents are encouraged to help alleviate the strain by allowing the child extra time and support for completion of tasks, particularly in the case of visually oriented activities. Eventually their visual functions should return to normal.
A holistic optometry practice with a behavioral optometrist will work with you to help diagnose and treat concussion-related visual concerns. With up to 90% of traumatic brain injury patients experiencing some form of oculomotor dysfunction (e.g. tracking, scanning) and up to 40% dealing with persistent visual dysfunction beyond 3 months, it is critical to engage the support of an eye care professional who understands the situation and will be there for you throughout the recovery process, no matter how long it takes.
To learn more about concussion care, click on the resource links below.