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Brain injury and stress disorder strong indicators of vision problems for veterans
Date:11/11/2012

CHICAGO November 11, 2012 Many veterans of the United States armed forces who have traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder also have undiagnosed, chronic vision problems, according to two studies presented today at the 116th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, jointly conducted this year with the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology.

New Recognition of What Traumatic Brain Injury Can Mean for Veterans' Vision

In a study conducted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., researchers found that vision problems in veterans with mild TBI are much more common and persistent than previously recognized, with 67 percent of the 31 patients studied reporting chronic vision disorders. Though none of the affected veterans had suffered direct eye wounds, their vision continued to be impaired more than a year after they endured the injuries that caused their TBI.

The vision problems most frequently reported by the veterans in the study were convergence, which is the ability to focus both eyes simultaneously in order to read or see other nearby objects, and sensitivity to light. Veterans' ability to readjust their focus when moving their gaze between far and near objects, known as accommodation, was also reduced. Other complaints included double vision and "floaters," which are spots or spidery shapes that seem to move across the visual field. Full recovery of visual function took five years or more in many of the veterans, which is much longer than is typically seen in sports concussions and other non-blast-related TBI.

Blast-related TBI is the most frequent injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. From 2000, the Department of Defense reported 194,561 cases of mild TBI, or about 76 percent of all TBI injuries.

"Physicians who care for veterans with TBI need to know that many of them have vision problems," said M. Teresa Magone, M.D., staff ophthalmologist wit
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade@aao.org
510-725-5677
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert  

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