Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Robert Fox.  Dr. Fox graduated fromSUNY-State College of Optometry in 1985, after which he completed a residency in Rehabilitative Optometry at the Northport VA Medical Center.  He is in private practice in Schenectady, NY, and also consults on brain injury related vision problems at the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in Schenectady.  When not busy at his practice Dr. Fox likes to snowboard, play hockey, and golf.

A recent article in USA Today, highlighted the use of a simple eye test in the detection of concussions.  The test, known as the King-Devick test, is a test for eye movement speed and accuracy.  The goal of the test is to read lines of numbers off a page as quickly as you can.  Research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown that poor performance is a confident indicator that a concussion has occurred.

Awareness of concussions has grown rapidly over the past few years.  Professional and scholastic athletes are now being required to sit out much longer than in the past to recover from severe blows to the head.  Blows to the head are not limited to football.  As an optometrist who consults with a local bring injury rehab center, I have seen injuries in activities such as hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, dance (yes, dance), and soccer.  One of the most important aspects of this new article is the connection between vision function and brain injury.  Even mild concussions can cause major visual function problems.  These can include:

*blurred vision – especially when reading

*headaches associated with reading

*double vision

*eye pain

*poor reading comprehension

*light sensitivity

*frequent loss of place when reading

For the student athlete, these symptoms can have a huge effect on learning and school performance.  These vision problems can also linger months after the initial pain and headaches associated with the concussion have gone away.  The most common causes of these problems are a convergence insufficiency (eyes that don’t work well together at near) and/or accommodative (focusing) insufficiency following the injury.

The good news is that these vision problems respond well to optometric intervention.  The King-Devick test is just one of a larger battery of tests designed to evaluate eye function and the integrity of the vision system.  Treatment usually consists of a combination of glasses for reading and optometric vision therapy.  These treatments allow the student to return to their academic activities much sooner than just waiting for things to clear up on their own.

Further information on vision therapy and brain injury is available from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association.