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What Is Kaleidoscope Vision?

Kaleidoscope vision is not a stand-alone condition, but rather a visual symptom of migraines or conditions like a stroke or brain injury. A person experiencing kaleidoscope vision may perceive their visual field to be fractured, vividly colored, or scrambled — similar to looking through a kaleidoscope.

Visual symptoms like kaleidoscope vision can affect one or both eyes and can occur with or without a headache. In many cases, visual auras precede headaches and migraines.

Episodes of kaleidoscope vision usually last between 10-30 minutes, but can persist up to an hour.

What Can Cause Kaleidoscope Vision?

The most common cause of kaleidoscope vision is an ocular migraine, which is a migraine accompanied by visual symptoms. About 20% of people who suffer from migraines experience some type of aura, also known as a sensory disturbance. Other forms of auras include tingling in the hands or face, muscle weakness, and difficulty speaking.

Visual Symptoms of a Migraine

Kaleidoscope vision is a component of only one type of visual aura. Understanding the other types of visual disturbances that may accompany a migraine can provide more clarity.

The 3 types of visual auras are:

1- Positive Visual Aura

This is when a person sees something that isn’t actually there. For example, a person experiencing a positive aura may see zig-zag or squiggly lines, flashes, stars, or dots. These perceived shapes may be colorful and move around the visual field or grow larger. A visual hallucination is also considered a positive aura.

2- Negative Visual Aura

This is characterized by any loss of vision during a migraine, whether partial or total. With negative auras, one may experience blind spots, loss of peripheral vision, or a brief period of total vision loss.

3- Altered Visual Aura

This type of aura distorts what you see without adding or subtracting anything. For example, one may perceive a straight line as wavy or blurred. Kaleidoscope vision is considered an altered aura.

Other forms of altered aura include misperceiving the size of an object (seeing it as larger or smaller than it really is), distorted distance perception, and distorted or absence of color.

If you experience any of the above symptoms with a migraine, seek medical attention to rule out more serious conditions, like retinal tearing or stroke.

What Causes an Ocular Migraine?

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of ocular migraines, but research suggests that structural abnormalities of the visual cortex could play a role.

Another possible trigger of ocular migraines is visual dysfunction. There are several types of visual dysfunction that can trigger migraines, but a common one is binocular visual dysfunction (BVD). A binocular vision problem refers to a misalignment of the eyes.

Ordinarily, our brain receives an image from each eye and unifies those images to make one clear picture. This can only occur efficiently when the eyes are properly aligned. With BVD, the eyes and brain struggle to form a clear and unified image, which can cause the eyes to become overworked and strained. This high amount of ocular stress can produce painful physical symptoms, like a migraine with aura.

Reducing the amount of stress your eyes endure can lessen the frequency or intensity of migraines, visual auras, and their debilitating symptoms.

How A Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

If you or a loved one is experiencing ocular migraines, the first step is to schedule a functional visual evaluation. By assessing your vision, we can narrow down the cause of your symptoms and determine if visual problems could be amplifying them.

If a visual problem is detected, will create a custom neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to strengthen your visual system and correct the problem at its source.

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can improve visual skills like eye movement, eye tracking, and eye teaming. This specialized form of vision therapy trains the eyes and brain to work in unison, increasing the efficiency of the visual system.

We may also recommend certain changes, such as rethinking your workspace, that can relieve some eye strain and stress, which may lessen the number of migraines you experience.

Start your journey to healing and call to schedule a functional visual evaluation today.

Our practice serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, Illinois and surrounding communities.

Sensitivity To Light And Your Vision

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Sensitivity To Light And Your Vision

Experiencing sensitivity to light — a condition called photophobia — is a symptom of a multitude of conditions and disorders. In its mildest form, photophobia causes discomfort in the presence of bright light. More severe cases of photophobia can produce eye pain, headaches, nausea, and dizziness even in a dimly lit environment.

Those who are light-sensitive can experience discomfort from any source of light, whether natural or artificial. A photophobic individual may feel the need to blink frequently or close their eyes in bright indoor or outdoor environments.

In some cases, light sensitivity may be caused by a problem with the visual system. That’s where a neuro-optometrist can help. If you suspect you have photophobia or are experiencing eye discomfort in bright or dim settings, call for a functional visual evaluation.

What Can Cause Photophobia?

light sensetive 500

Eye conditions and diseases that can trigger photophobia include:

  • Dry eye
  • Iritis or uveitis
  • Eye burns
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Eye surgery
  • Blepharospasm
  • Keratitis
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Retinal damage
  • Cataracts
  • Dilated pupils

Light sensitivity can also accompany:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Brain injury and concussions
  • Meningitis
  • The use of certain drugs
  • Bacterial and viral infections

The Visual System and Photophobia

All cases of photophobia should be addressed by an eye care professional to rule out an underlying inflammatory condition, infection, or concussion. If that has been done yet symptoms persist, there could be a problem with visual functioning — the way the eyes and visual system function together.

If the connection between the eye’s light-detecting cells and the optical nerve becomes disrupted, it can result in light sensitivity.

Furthermore, if the eyes don’t work in unison with each other or don’t communicate with the brain efficiently, this could strain the visual system and lead to photophobia.

Post-concussion photophobia can stem from the dysfunctional operation of 1 or more of the 4 regions of the brain.

  1. The thalamus filters all visual information that enters the brain. If the brain isn’t sending enough oxygen to the thalamus, which can occur after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the thalamus may not perform efficiently, causing the brain to be overwhelmed by an influx of visual stimuli — such as bright light.
  2. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates things like breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure, and more. If the ANS becomes dysregulated, it can cause the pupils to overly dilate, letting in too much light for the visual system to process.
  3. A malfunctioning vestibular system can also cause photophobia. This system consists of the inner ear, eyes, and sensory detectors in our limbs to regulate balance and motion. If there is a discrepancy between either of those areas, the brain may compensate by increasing sensitivity in one of the areas — such as the eyes.
  4. The superior colliculus in the midbrain manages visual mapping as well as coordination with other senses. An imbalance in this area can cause vision and other senses to become hypersensitized.

How a Neuro-Optometrist Can Help

A functional visual evaluation with will determine if a problem with the visual system is causing or contributing to your photophobia.

If visual dysfunction is detected, we may recommend a personalized neuro-optometric rehabilitation program to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. This specialized form of therapy involves the use of various filters and prisms, as well as visual exercises to strengthen the eye-brain connection.

If you or a loved one suffers from photophobia, call to schedule a functional visual evaluation and start your journey towards healing.

Our practice serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, Illinois and surrounding communities.

References:

Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation

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Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation

The statistics on TBIs are quite startling. Over 2.8 million Americans suffer a form of traumatic injury each year, which is close to 1 in 100. Traumatic brain injury causes damage to the brain, resulting in headaches, confusion, poor concentration, and vision dysfunctions, among other problems. Fortunately, vision rehabilitation treatment, as part of an integrated team approach, can effectively help in the rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injuries.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden injury damages your brain. There are two types of TBI: a closed head injury that doesn’t break through the skull (yet may still cause brain damage), and a penetrating head injury, which causes the skull to break.

Approximately 47% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, particularly among young children and those over 65 years of age. Other TBI injuries can result from blunt force trauma (15%), car accidents (14%), and violent physical assaults (9%).

The symptoms experienced following a TBI include headaches, confusion, dizziness, convulsions, poor concentration, memory issues, and personality changes. Because more areas of the brain are used to process vision than any other system, traumatic brain injuries can often result in vision problems.

In order to recover from a TBI, one needs to undergo rehabilitation, which can come in many forms — depending on your specific case and requirements. It may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as neurological, and psychiatric care. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation, however, is one of the most effective ways to resolve a range of traumatic brain injury vision problems.

Rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injuries

kissing wifeDuring its acute stage, moderately to severely injured TBI patients will typically be treated and cared for in the intensive care unit of a hospital. As your needs and abilities change, so will the rehab program. Rehabilitation can take place in various settings, such as inpatient or outpatient rehab hospitals, home-based rehab, day programs, and independent living centers.

What Does Rehabilitation Resemble Following Brain Injury?

Everybody’s needs and functions vary following a brain injury, and each rehab program is designed to match the patient’s unique needs and goals. The program generally includes a case coordinator and several healthcare providers.

The treatments below are offered based on your functions and abilities, such as visual skills, speech ability, mental and behavioral state, language comprehension, among others.

  • Physical therapy
  • Physical medicine
  • Occupational therapy
  • Neuro-optometric rehabilitation
  • Psychiatric and psychological care
  • Speech and language therapy

How Does TBI Affect Vision?

Studies indicate that 90 % of TBI patients experience some form of vision disruption, which is caused by interrupted communication between the eyes and the brain.

Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eyestrain
  • Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Reading difficulties
  • Visual periphery defects
  • Color contrast issues
  • Vestibular dysfunction
  • Decreased visual acuity

These visual aberrations may affect professional, educational and other aspects of daily living.

Unfortunately, TBI-related vision problems may often be overlooked during the initial brain injury treatment as visual disruptions may not be present until some time has passed following the accident.

holding handsHow Can an Optometrist Help in the Recovery of a TBI?

Optometrists, who typically work as part of an interdisciplinary team, play a crucial role in treating patients with TBI. Neuro- optometric rehabilitation optometrists (neuro-optometrists) assess and treat TBI-related visual disorders that impact the patient’s rehabilitative progress and quality of life.

At , we see a variety of patients who have had TBI, whether due to a sports injury, motor vehicle accident, or fall, with visual problems range in complexity and severity. By staying on top of the most recent research, can properly tailor a treatment plan to the patient’s unique needs for maximum results.

Two Types of Eye Doctors Specialize in the Detection and Treatment of TBI

Neuro-optometrists

A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (OD) who is highly trained in diagnosing and treating neurological conditions that impact the visual system. The treatment of TBI by a neuro-optometrist is called neuro-optometric rehabilitation (also known as vision rehabilitation).

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation should not be confused with vision therapy, as not all doctors who offer vision therapy are trained in neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

Neuro-ophthalmologist

A neuro-ophthalmologist is a medically trained eye doctor ( MD) who specializes in vision problems relating to the nervous system — such as TBI-related visual acuity loss.

Both neuro-optometrists, such as , and neuro-ophthalmologists can identify TBI-related vision problems. Depending on the type and severity of problems detected, they will develop a treatment plan uniquely designed to eliminate post-TBI vision symptoms and difficulties. Treatments typically include specialized glasses to help with visual processing or in-office and at-home neuro-rehabilitation procedures to reduce symptoms and promote visual recovery.

It is important to note that a single type of vision rehabilitation treatment is often not enough to address all the patient’s needs. That is why an interdisciplinary, integrated team approach can play a vital role in the rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injuries.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation for Brain Injuries

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation is a personalized treatment regimen for those with visual deficits resulting from traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities or other neurological issues. The vision complications that develop following a TBI are not related to visual acuity (20/20) but rather to eye teaming, focusing, and tracking. This can result in difficulties in reading and playing sports.

The goal of neuro-optometric rehabilitation is to retrain the visual system and eliminate the visual symptoms that arise from a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately, by using specific eye-training exercises, one can rewire the brain to improve eye function. Just as with other rehabilitation methods, the earlier one starts the eye exercises following a TBI, the better the chance of recovery and sight improvement.

We will use a variety of tools and exercises to train aspects of the visual system in order to improve vision accuracy. The functional skills the doctor will work on will include eye tracking, focusing, and eye teaming, as well as visual discrimination (the ability to discern b’s and d’s), handwriting, and spatial awareness. During the course of the treatment, the patient will be assigned a series of home exercises with specialized equipment. Follow-ups will be regularly scheduled by the optometrist to assess progress.

Should Everyone With a Brain Injury See An Eye Doctor?

If you experience a traumatic brain injury, make sure to see a neuro-optometrist who has special training in TBI-related visual aberrations. This is all the more necessary if you experience any changes in your vision following head trauma.

Children With Traumatic Brain Injury

Though the symptoms of TBI in children resemble those experienced by adults, the functional impact can be very different. Because the brain of a child is in development, a brain injury can result in cognitive impairments. Though not always apparent following the injury, it may manifest itself as the child gets older. Your child may face physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges which can result in struggles for children, their families, schools, and communities.

Therefore, once the child is stabilized following a brain injury, the patient should receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, optometric and neuropsychological testing. Rehabilitation will teach the child how to compensate for impaired or lost functions and will provide strategies on ways to optimize the use of these abilities as they return.

The caring and knowledgeable staff at are always here to help patients experience the best vision care and treatment possible.

Our practice serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, Illinois and surrounding communities.