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Does Your Head Hurt? You Might Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction

headache womanHave you been struggling with headaches or migraines with little to no relief? If so, you might be suffering from binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).

A standard eye exam generally won’t identify BVD. That’s why it’s important to consult a neuro-optometrist if you’re experiencing headaches or migraines.

What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction is a condition where your eyes are misaligned, leading the eye muscles to strain to transmit one clear image to your brain. This can result in head pain, migraines and several other symptoms. If the problem is BVD, a neuro-optometrist can diagnose the condition and provide effective treatment.

Common Symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction

People with BVD typically experience some of these symptoms:

  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Double vision
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Reduced attention span and concentration difficulties
  • Shadowed, overlapping or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Motion sickness
  • Poor depth perception
  • Neck, upper back or shoulder pain

If BVD is the cause of your symptoms, specialized prismatic optical lenses that allow the eyes to regain their alignment can usually provide prompt relief.

Learning Disabilities and Reading Symptoms

Having even slightly misaligned eyes can also disrupt learning and reading.

Binocular vision dysfunction can tire your eyes while reading. Words may blend together, and you may skip lines or lose your place while reading.

A routine eye exam isn’t geared toward diagnosing BVD, so if your child complains of headaches and is struggling with schoolwork, get them assessed by your neuro-optometrist today.

Treatment for Your Headaches and Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Unlike standard eyeglasses, BVD lenses are specialized aligning lenses that allow your eyes to work together. Once your eyes are working together, the brain will receive one clear image. Your eye muscles will then be able to relax and release the tension that can cause headaches and migraines. Your eye doctor can play a significant role in treating these symptoms.

If you suffer from headaches, you may have BVD or another vision problem. Schedule a vision evaluation at Thompson Family Optometry as soon as possible. The earlier a vision problem is detected, the sooner you can receive a comprehensive treatment plan to achieve clearer and more comfortable vision.

Thompson Family Optometry serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Ontario.

 

TBIs Can Be Caused by Even the Mildest of Head Injuries

TBIs Can Be Caused by Even the Mildest of Head InjuriesTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption in the normal function of the brain. Most are caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head. Even a mild TBI, such as a mild concussion, can interfere with the healthy functioning of the brain’s visual pathways, causing a disruption in the way the brain and eyes communicate and a host of visual dysfunctions.

In fact, studies show that 90% of TBI patients experience some form of vision disruption, which may result in long-term, life-altering consequences, such as blurred vision, visual field loss, reading problems, among others. They may also cause the person to be identified as dyslexic or having attention deficit disorder (ADD), and may present as spatial dysfunctions affecting posture and balance.

Most brain injuries are caused by motor accidents, blasts due to explosions, falls, physical abuse, or sports-related injuries. It’s often difficult to assess the severity of the impact an injury can have on the brain, as minor head injuries may at times cause abundant cranial bleeding, while major injuries may not bleed at all. Though the initial incident may be very painful, most of the symptoms of TBI may appear sometime after the injury and not at the time of initial impact.

TBIs and related visual symptoms must be taken seriously. If you sustained even a mild head injury but feel like you have a reason for concern, consult Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson, who will assess your vision and help determine the right course of treatment for your condition to prevent potential long-term damage.

How Common Are TBIs?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 13.5 million individuals live with a disability caused by traumatic brain injury in the U.S. alone. Approximately 47% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, particularly among young children, young men, and men and women over age 65. Fortunately, most TBIs (commonly called concussions), are mild.

How Does a TBI Affect Vision?

Since more areas of the brain are used to process vision than any other system, traumatic brain injuries often cause visual problems. Such injuries can disrupt the communication between the brain and the visual system and interfere with the processing of visual information, leading to blurred vision, reading difficulties, sensitivity to light, and double vision, among other symptoms.

Visual problems tend to be overlooked during the initial treatment of brain injury, especially with mild TBIs such as a concussion or whiplash. Furthermore, a regular eye exam often fails to reveal the extent to which the visual process has been affected since the vision complications that develop are not related to visual acuity (20/20), but rather to eye teaming, focusing, and tracking.

If you are experiencing post-concussion visual symptoms, there is always the risk that they will worsen over time. Some patients notice visual problems only while experiencing an additional stressor such as illness, family or work stress, or when there is a disruption to normal routines.

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson can determine both the severity of the impact of a TBI on your visual system, and the treatment required for your recovery.

What Treatment Can a Neuro-Optometrist Offer?

If you’ve sustained a TBI, Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson offers Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation, an individualized treatment regimen to rehabilitate the connection between the brain and the eyes and the visual system. This therapy can minimize or even eliminate TBI-related visual symptoms weeks, months, or even years after the injury.


Contact Thompson Family Optometry if you have any questions, or to schedule a Neuro-Optometric Assessment. We serve patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, all throughout Ontario.

References:

Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Harm the Visual System — And Self Esteem

Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Harm the Visual System And Self EsteemA traumatic brain injury (TBI) can harm vital communication between the brain and the visual system, bringing on disabling symptoms. People trying to deal with these symptoms may experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

They may no longer be able to perform tasks as they once did. After a concussion or more severe TBI, one may experience recurring headaches that necessitate frequent breaks while working or studying, reducing productivity. Or chronic dizziness from a blow to the head could prevent a person from driving, making them dependent on others. A child who’s suffered a TBI may be unable to participate in group sports or activities, making them feel “alone” or “different.”

That’s where we come in. If you or a loved one has suffered even a mild TBI, speak with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson about having your visual system assessed during a functional vision evaluation to determine if something can be done to ease your symptoms.

Signs of Emotional Distress Following a TBI

The struggle to read a book or catch a ball due to double vision or eye tracking problems can be demoralizing. A post-TBI patient could experience lowered self-esteem or depression. Be alert for these signs:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
  • Negative self-talk
  • Lack of motivation
  • Being irritable or moody
  • Reduced or lack of appetite

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

It can be discouraging to hear from other health professionals that there’s nothing to be done for lingering TBI symptoms. Fortunately, neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI patients in ways that few other health care providers can.

Neuro-optometry deals with the visual system and how it impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to more effectively communicate and control the eyes, symptoms like dizziness, headache, and nausea can be significantly reduced or disappear altogether.

Eradicating these debilitating symptoms can be life-changing and allow you to go back to doing what you love. Children may once again be able to play with their friends on the soccer field or basketball court. Adults may become more interested in socializing and exercising, and become more productive at work. Resuming these activities can boost self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

At Thompson Family Optometry, we know all too well the challenges that accompany a traumatic brain injury and how it can affect self-esteem. To schedule a functional visual evaluation and determine if a problem with the visual system is contributing to your post-TBI symptoms, call Thompson Family Optometry today.

Thompson Family Optometry serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Ontario.

REFERENCES

 

Prism Glasses for Post-Concussion Patients

Concussions Can Affect the Visual System

Prism Glasses for Post Concussion PatientsConcussions are brain injuries resulting from physical trauma, such as a car accident, a fall, or a collision while playing sports. Left untreated, they can adversely affect one’s health for months or years to come. Because the visual system relies on the brain, a concussion can cause:

  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • eyes misaligned while focusing
  • sensitivity to light
  • depth-perception problems
  • headaches
  • vertigo
  • balance problems
  • eyestrain
  • difficulty reading

People who experience a concussion often sustain other injuries, so medical professionals may initially overlook visual problems. Fortunately, when these problems arise, vision therapy can help.

Prisms Aid in Vision Therapy

If you’ve suffered a concussion, Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson will ask about your visual symptoms post-concussion and how your daily routine is affected. Then Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson will perform a comprehensive eye exam to check for severe optical consequences like retinal detachment or traumatic uveitis, and will evaluate your depth perception, binocular vision, and ability to focus.

Vision therapy for a concussion often includes the wearing of eyeglasses with prisms, which compensate for any changes to the visual system caused by the concussion. Prisms address spatial challenges — such as posture, depth perception, coordination, and balance — by shifting the perceived position of objects and adjusting part of the person’s visual field. You should begin to notice improvement while wearing prism eyeglasses during therapeutic exercises like walking in a corridor, taking heel-to-toe steps, and reading. If the concussion’s visual effects are more severe, Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson will prescribe prism eyeglasses for your daily use.

Prisms’ effects are real. One study found that prisms led to a 71.8 percent reduction of headache, dizziness, and anxiety symptoms in some patients with traumatic brain injury. That study also found that the use of prisms allows other post-concussion therapies — physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication — to work more effectively.

That means a better quality of life.

 

 

At Thompson Family Optometry, Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson uses prisms for post-concussion patients in Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Ontario.

References:

How Vision and the Brain Work Together

How Vision and the Brain Work Together 640There’s more to a healthy vision than meets the eye. While it’s true that functional visual skills depend on healthy eyes, a healthy brain is equally important. The human visual system has three components: the eyes, the visual cortex, and the connecting pathways between the two. When communication between the eyes and brain is disrupted, such as after a brain injury or stroke, the patient is often left with visual symptoms that can interfere with day-to-day tasks. Even the mildest forms of TBI, where there is no concussion, can harm this communication. That’s where neuro-optometry comes into play.

What Is Neuro-Optometry?

Neuro-optometry treats vision-related symptoms at their source — the brain. By strengthening the eye-brain connection, neuro-optometrists can treat a multitude of symptoms and conditions caused by neurological diseases, congenital or metabolic conditions, and trauma.

Services offered by neuro-optometrists include:

  • Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy
  • Visual processing assessments
  • Extensive functional visual evaluations
  • Eye health examinations

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Rick Thompson and Dr. Greg Thompson will assess:

  • How well the eyes work together
  • Eye-tracking
  • Visual memory
  • How vision is integrated with balance and coordination
  • Ability to focus and aim

Who Could Benefit From Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy?

Brain injuries and other neurological conditions can affect multiple parts of the body, so patients and physicians may overlook problems in the visual system due to more pressing concerns. This is why a consultation with a neuro-optometrist is crucial.

Patients with any of the following conditions are urged to visit a neuro-optometrist for a complete evaluation:

  • Traumatic brain injury – (even a minor concussion)
  • Stroke
  • Chronic brain inflammation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Balance and mobility issues
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Any condition that affects the nervous system
  • Post traumatic vision syndrome
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visual midline shift syndrome
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Autism

The above conditions can impair any of the following visual skills:

  • Eye-tracking
  • Eye teaming
  • Eye movement
  • Visual perceptual
  • Focusing

Individuals who experience the following visual symptoms may also benefit from a consultation with a neuro-optometrist:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reduced cognitive abilities related to visual tasks

Treatment typically involves specialized lenses and/or in-office neuro-optometric rehabilitation exercises that are tailored to each patient’s visual needs. Just as with other forms of therapy, an interdisciplinary approach, with cooperation from other health-care providers, is often required to facilitate a complete recovery from a neurological event.

Feel free to contact us with any further questions you may have. Thompson Family Optometry serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Brampton.

 

Nystagmus — Is That a Super Spy?

Although the word “Nystagmus” sounds like something out of a comic book, it actually refers to a condition characterized by repetitive involuntary eye movements. The eyes may move from side to side, up and down, or in circular motions. Those affected by nystagmus will often experience reduced vision and difficulty with depth perception, balance, and coordination due to the unstable vision. At Thompson Optometry, we treat a wide range of eye conditions— including nystagmus—with our neuro-optometric rehabilitation program.

Types of Nystagmus

Congenital or Infantile Nystagmus

Nystagmus can begin in infancy, affecting babies as young as 2 or 3 months of age. With infantile nystagmus, the eye movements tend to be horizontal. In some cases, no treatment is required and the condition will fade on its own. With conditions such as albinism (those who are albino) this does not fade.

Spasmus Nutans

This form of nystagmus develops in children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years and will likely improve without any medical intervention by age 8. Children affected by this type of nystagmus will exhibit eye movements in any direction, and may tilt or nod their heads to compensate for the unstable vision.

Acquired

Acquired nystagmus develops later on in childhood or adulthood and is often associated with problems in the central nervous system or metabolic disorders.

What Can Cause Nystagmus?

Nystagmus is generally caused by a neurological problem but can also be a symptom of another disease or condition. Additionally, several factors can worsen the condition, such as stress and fatigue.

Other causes include:

  • Albinism
  • Very high myopia (nearsightedness) or astigmatism
  • Underdeveloped eye movement control
  • Inner ear inflammation
  • Certain medications
  • Congenital cataracts

Nystagmus Treatments

In rare cases of nystagmus, surgery may aid in improving vision by changing the position of the eye muscles that control their movement.

A more holistic approach to treating nystagmus is through neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy. Recent research has shown that this specialized form of vision therapy improves visual function in most patients with nystagmus. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy refines and improves visual skills by strengthening the brain’s control over the eyes, thereby treating the problem at its source.

Thompson Optometry offers the latest in neuro-optometric rehabilitation and treats patients with several forms of visual disorders, including nystagmus. If you or a loved one are affected by this eye condition, speak with Dr. Thompson or our vision therapist, Toni, to learn how we can help.

 

Is It Normal To Have Long-Lasting Symptoms After A Head Injury?

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair 897817Perhaps you can relate to one of these scenarios:

After sustaining a mild head injury in a car accident, you now have trouble focusing any time you try to read. You can’t concentrate and feel the need to shut or cover your eyes to find some relief.

Or maybe your child fell and took a blow to the head while playing sports and has complained of headaches ever since. Traditional headache remedies just aren’t effective, and your primary care doctor assures you that no obvious brain damage has occurred and that the headaches will resolve shortly — but they persist.

For the estimated 1.5 million Americans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year, these scenarios are typical of post-TBI struggles. Concussions and other forms of TBI can seriously impact lives by generating long-lasting symptoms. Fortunately, a neuro-optometrist can provide a crucial component to the healing process with neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

If you or a loved one has suffered even a mild TBI, call Thompson Family Optometry to schedule a functional visual evaluation and determine if you can benefit from neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

What Types of Symptoms Follow a Head Injury?

The brain controls much of what goes on in our bodies, so it’s no surprise that a TBI can produce a wide range of symptoms. Below we’ll discuss the most common symptoms and how we can help treat them.

Visual Difficulties

Approximately 90% of all TBIs result in some degree of visual dysfunction. When the eye-brain connection is disrupted, a decrease in visual ability results. Some visual difficulties that may follow a TBI include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Convergence insufficiency — the inability of the eyes to focus on a near object
  • Binocular vision disorder — eye turn or lazy eye
  • Problems with eye-tracking or eye-teaming
  • Difficulty reading or often losing your place while reading
  • Color contrast issues
  • Peripheral vision defects
  • Eye strain or tired eyes
  • Decreased visual acuity

Headaches and Migraines

In many cases, headaches, including migraines, can be caused by a visual dysfunction. Following a TBI, the ocular muscles will need to exert extra effort to compensate for trauma to the visual system. This additional effort can lead to eye strain.and cause pain in the temples and forehead similar to —and often mistaken for— a tension headache or migraine. Correcting the visual problem will, in many cases, alleviate the intensity and frequency of headaches, or eliminate them entirely.

Dizziness and Balance Problems

The eyes provide the brain with vital information regarding balance and coordination, so when the eye-brain connection is affected you may feel off-balance. This is especially true when a binocular vision disorder is present. Even the slightest misalignment of the eyes can make you feel dizzy, light-headed, or lose balance. Small degrees of misalignment can often be overlooked during routine eye exams, making it all the more important to see a neuro-optometrist in the presence of symptoms.

Concentration

Another possible after-effect of a concussion or other TBI is difficulty concentrating, especially when reading. It may be challenging to keep your place on the page or smoothly navigate along a sentence without having to stop and close your eyes momentarily for relief. Other potential challenges include problems with comprehension, memory difficulties, or trouble with multitasking.

Is It Normal To Have Long-Lasting Symptoms After A Head Injury? generic from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

How A Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

Neuro-optometrists are Doctors of Optometry (OD) who’ve been through postgraduate training to assess and treat visual disorders related to TBI and other similar conditions. The goal of neuro-optometric rehabilitation is to retrain the eyes and brain to work in unison and regain clear and comfortable vision by using specific visual exercises. Just as with any other rehabilitation therapy, the earlier one starts the rehabilitation program following a TBI, the higher the chance of recovering lost visual skills.

Thompson Family Optometry provides neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy and other services to patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Ontario.

https://www.theraspecs.com/blog/long-term-effects-of-moderate-severe-traumatic-brain-injuries-tbi/

https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/traumatic-brain-injury-visual-disorders-what-every-2

http://uwmsktc.washington.edu/sites/uwmsktc/files/files/TBI_cognitive.pdf

 

Dizziness and Balance: How Vision Plays a Vital Role

dizzyImagine trying to navigate a grocery store when, all of a sudden, a dizzy spell hits. The room starts to spin and you lose your balance. You struggle to stand up straight, your vision becomes blurred and orienting yourself in your surroundings becomes insurmountable. To those with vertigo and balance problems, performing simple daily tasks — such as grocery shopping — can feel defeating.

Maintaining proper balance is complex and relies on the collective, healthy functioning of three separate systems: the inner ear, muscle-joint feedback, and vision. Ongoing research suggests that there may be a relationship between a heightened risk of falling and poor vision.

How Does Vision Affect Balance and Dizziness?

A good sense of balance depends on your ability to see where you are in relation to your surroundings as well as where certain key body parts are in relation to the rest of the body. This information is received by receptors in the muscles and joints but also implicates vision.

The most important visual skill needed to maintain balance is binocular vision, which is the eyes’ ability to work together in creating a clear and unified view of the world around you. The visual system helps regulate the other systems involved in maintaining balance, this means that any defect in the visual system can lead to frequent falls and a balance disorder.

Visual dysfunctions that cause blurred or double vision are common in balance disorders, but can also be its root cause. By improving your vision functionality, you could significantly improve balance and diminish the frequency of dizzy spells.

We Treat Visual Dysfunctions To Improve Balance and Reduce Dizziness

To get to the root of the condition and to assess its connection with vision, Dr. Thompson will evaluate a wide range of visual skills, such as oculomotor skills, eye teaming and tracking, focusing, visual processing, and how well the brain interprets visual information.

If a visual dysfunction is detected, a fully customized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program will be provided to treat the visual components contributing to the balance disorder. With the patient’s participation and diligence, the visual skills and abilities can be improved over time.

What Is Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Therapy?

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy, a form of vision therapy, enables those suffering from visual problems to retrain the brain and eyes to regain functionality and quality of life. This therapy uses a variety of methods and techniques to train both eyes to work as a team. It is made up of individualized exercises, which, when done over a period of time rehabilitate visual, perceptual and motor disorders, thus helping the patient regain balance. This effectively reduces or resolves symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, and lack of balance.

The neuro-optometric rehabilitation program offered at Thompson Optometry can help detect and treat the underlying vision problem causing your dizziness and balance issues.

If you’ve tried other types of therapies and still experience dizziness and balance problems, it’s time to see what Dr. Thompson can do for you. Start your journey to recovery by calling, and schedule your appointment today.

Dizziness and Balance: How Vision Plays A Vital Role from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Thompson Family Optometry serves patients from Brampton, Milton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, and throughout Ontario.

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COVID-19 Update

Dr. Greg Thompson and Dr Rick Thompson are still seeing patients for routine eye exams and frame selection for eye glasses. Please contact the office by phone, 905-793-2020, or by email contact@drrickthompson.ca. The Medical Officer of Health requires patients to wear protective masks. The doctors and staff will be using the appropriate PPEs. An appointment is required for all visits – please phone ahead.

Here is our schedule:

Monday: Friday, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm

Saturday: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Sunday: Closed