by James A. Heuer, PA
On February 28, 1998, my wife and I were involved in a motor vehicle collision. We were waiting at a stoplight on the way home from a dinner. There was a car in front of us so we could not turn right on red. A driver exiting the freeway crashed into the car behind us, knocking it into our car.
As a result of the crash, I sustained a traumatic brain injury. For the next year my life was dramatically changed. Both my personal relationships, and my ability to do my job as a lawyer were all affected by my TBI.
Fortunately, after consultation with my neurologist, his treatment, and the passage of time, the symptoms of my TBI went away and I was able to return back to normal.
After that incident over 20 years ago, I have had a keen interest in making sure that my clients get properly diagnosed with a TBI and get the treatment they need to cope and/or live with the symptoms until they are fully healed.
Many people sustain a TBI without the loss of consciousness. We ask every client that comes to our office if they lost consciousness so that we can ascertain whether or not they need treatment for a TBI.
There are many problems related to a TBI. In this article we are going to discuss vision and eye injuries. In future articles we will discuss the different aspects of traumatic brain injuries, the diagnosis and treatment, and how these injuries affect an insurance company’s evaluation of a recovery for damages.
Automobile accidents can result in serious injuries to the eyes.
In closed-head injuries, also referred to as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), a multitude of symptoms and side effects can occur such as:
- Blurred or double vision
- Photosensitivity (light/sunlight/glare)
- Loss of or reduction in one’s field of vision
- Problems with comprehension and/or reduced attention/concentration
- Headaches associated with visual tasks
- Memory problems
- Focus and depth perception especially without blurring
Other serious eye injuries that are extremely serious and require immediate medical attention are as follows:
- Optic Nerve Damage
- Optic nerve damage is any kind of injury or damage to the optic nerve. Head injuries have the potential to cause increased pressure within the skull, which in turn may put pressure on the optic nerve. This pressure can cut off blood circulation and lead to vision distortion, vision loss, and/or blindness.
- Retinal Detachment
- This happens when the retina, a thin layer of tissue lining the inside of the back of the eye, separates from the tissue around it. This issue can potentially cause permanent blindness.
- Vitreous Hemorrhage
- Vitreous hemorrhage is blood in the vitreous. The vitreous is the clear, jellylike substance in the center of the eyeball. Head injuries can cause blood vessels in the eye to bleed into the vitreous.
- Convergence Insufficiency
- Convergence insufficiency is the inability to point both of one’s eyes at a near target (such as printed text) for a sustained period of time. One’s eyes must be able to sustain a posture of turning our eyes inwards (convergence) for the duration of any close-up task that one completes (balancing a checkbook, completing computer work, reading a magazine, etc.). People with convergence insufficiency are unable to sustain this posture while looking at things nearby. Symptoms and severity of symptoms of convergence insufficiency vary greatly; however, most commonly people with this diagnosis are often unable to sustain comfortable and clear vision while reading after a short period of time (5–15 minutes). Symptoms include blurring of words while reading, double or shadowed vision while reading, headaches, eye fatigue, loss of place when reading, and sometime frank avoidance of all near activities.
- Oculomotor Dysfunction/Saccadic Dysfunction
- Saccadic dysfunction refers to deficit with eye tracking or eye movement. Patients with this diagnosis struggle with the planning and execution of eye movements used to look at stationary objects.
James A. Heuer, PA is a personal injury attorney helping individuals with TBI after suffering one himself, he practices law in Minneapolis, Minnesota. https://www.heuerfischer.com/