Concussions occur in a wide range of sports and affect athletes across the board. It’s estimated that nearly 4 million athletes incur concussions each year in competitive and recreational sports. What’s more, nearly half of concussions go unreported and untreated.

Children and teens are especially vulnerable. They are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover. Athlete safety is a No. 1 priority. Protecting your body and brain keeps you healthy and in play.

What is the link between concussion and vision?

Head trauma and concussions can have major effects on the visual system even when medical imaging shows normal results. The group of symptoms that cause blurred vision, eye coordination issues and dizziness after a concussion is collectively called “post-trauma vision syndrome.” The main symptoms that occur in post-trauma vision syndrome are dizziness, walk or stride (gait) issues, balance loss, focusing problems, headaches, and double vision.

Even mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction. Severe concussions can cause blindness and double vision. More subtle effects on vision are difficulty focusing on near objects or on digital devices (computers, tablets and smart-phones) after a concussion.

Double Vision: 

Extremely disorienting and can cause dizziness, difficulty balancing, walking, and reading. Eye-hand coordination can also be impaired.

Accommodative dysfunction:

People often struggle to switch their focus from near to far and vice versa. The process of focusing on near objects is called accommodation. Often reading glasses, bifocals or progressive addition lenses are prescribed to remedy accommodative dysfunction. 

Convergence Insuffiency:

A decreased ability to converge the eyes and maintain binocular vision while focusing on a near target such as reading or working on the computer.  Convergence is the inward turning of the eyes toward the nose to focus on a near object. People who suffer from convergence insufficiency have difficulty using their eyes together and often complain of tired, achy eyes when reading. When reading, words might appear to move on the page.

Light sensitivity:

People often complain of light sensitivity and glare. In fact, after headache – light sensitivity is the second most common symptom seen after a concussion.

Visual Processing speed:

Some people with concussions experience prolonged visual processing speed.  Often tough on an athlete, a delay in processing images results in difficulty judging the field, judging distances, judging the speed of other players, and the speed of a ball, leading to an increased risk for further injuries and second impact syndrome.

How long does it take to recover from Concussion?

Most children with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. However for some, symptoms will last for a month or longer. Concussion symptoms may appear during the normal healing process or as your child gets back to their regular activities. If there are any symptoms that concern you or are getting worse, be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible.

What Steps Should My Child Take to Feel Better?

Making short-term changes to your child’s daily activities can help him or her get back to a regular routine more quickly. Rest is the best remedy. As your child begins to feel better, you can slowly remove these changes. Use your child’s symptoms to guide return to normal activities. If your child’s symptoms do not worsen during an activity then this activity is OK for them. If symptoms worsen, your child should cut back on how much he or she can do that activity without experiencing symptoms. It is important to remember that each concussion and each child is unique, so your child’s recovery should be customized based on his or her symptoms.

What can delay recovery?

  • a history of a previous concussion or other brain injury,
  • neurological or mental health disorders,
  • learning difficulties, and/or
  • family and social stressors.

How does vision training reduce concussions?

.Engaging in sports requires complex visual and physical performance. As an athlete, you must make split-second decisions that can change the course of the game and lead to victory or defeat. Improving visual performance allows you to react faster, see things coming from your peripheral field, and act quickly to move and maneuver so you don’t get hit. Re-entering to game too soon, might cause further injury and further time out of play.