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The Relationship Between Vision Loss and Brain Damage

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2020 | Brain Injury

By Pendergast Law on December 16, 2020

Our brains handle numerous processes, from finely-tuned actions like playing the piano to the recall of certain memories. When the brain is damaged, these processes can be impacted, leading to serious and life-changing disabilities.

One often-overlooked connection is between the brain and what we see. Even if your eyes are perfectly intact after an accident or trauma, if your brain is damaged, it could lead to vision loss or total blindness.

How the Brain Processes Sight

Our vision relies on two key processes. First, light must enter the eyes through the cornea and pupil until it hits the retina, which is located at the back of your eyeball. Like the film in a camera, the retina absorbs the light and creates an impression of what you are seeing. This image is then transferred along millions of nerves into the optic nerve.

At this point, the second process takes over: the optic nerve transports the image to the brain where the cerebral cortex — which is located at the back of the skull — will process the details of the image. This process is constantly occurring in your brain, allowing you to interpret numerous details about your environment instantly. While the brain processes these images, the optic nerve communicates with the brain stem, controlling how the eyes move and squint.

How Brain Trauma Affects Your Vision

Given that our brains both move our eyes and interpret the images they see, severe trauma to the brain can result in vision loss. This typically occurs as a result of blows to the head: vehicle collisions, assaults, falls, boating accidents, and any other situation where the skull is struck can lead to traumatic internal damage. Even in drownings, the brain loses oxygen, which can result in brain cell death.

Any traumatic brain injury should be reviewed by a doctor as soon as possible. Emergency room doctors can order MRIs and CT-scans to review the damage and determine if surgery is necessary, especially if there is internal bleeding. They may be able to identify damage to the cerebral cortex and how it can impact your vision. If you report any difficulties seeing out of either eye, they may take a look at your optic nerve to determine if the nerves are damaged, either by compression or tears. They will also check to see if your eyes are registering light by looking for pupil dilation or perform a Confrontation Visual Field Test (CVFT), a quick exam that checks your peripheral vision.

Common forms of vision loss that occur after a traumatic brain injury include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty seeing in low light
  • Split vision, or hemianopsia
  • Difficulty focusing on objects or letters
  • Difficulty moving your eyes
  • Limited peripheral vision
  • Blindness

Any of these injuries can impact your career, relationships, and education. No matter your job, an inability to see can impact your ability to make a living wage and cover your bills. If you are studying at college, you may need to change education paths or take a semester or more to heal. While there are some effective treatments to heal the damage to your brain — or adjust the way you process certain information – as well as corrective lenses, these will ultimately cost you a pretty penny. Paying that out of pocket can be next to impossible if you are suffering from severe vision loss.

However, if your vision loss was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you should reach out to a Seattle personal injury attorney. Our lawyers can review the nature of your accident and determine how you can receive compensation for your injuries. Compensation can cover both your medical bills and lost wages, as well as your physical pain and mental anguish. We can utilize our 30 years of experience to advocate for all of this in a personal injury claim on your behalf. To discuss your case in a free initial consultation, call us at 888-539-9211.