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Undiagnosed Eye Problems Plague Some U.S. Veterans
Date:11/12/2012

MONDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Undiagnosed, chronic vision problems are common in U.S. veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), two new studies show.

One study looked at 31 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with mild blast-related traumatic brain injury and found that 67 percent had chronic vision disorders. Even though none had suffered direct eye wounds, they still had vision problems more than a year after the incident that caused their traumatic brain injury.

The most common vision problems reported by the veterans were sensitivity to light and difficulty with convergence, which is the ability to focus both eyes simultaneously to read or to see nearby objects.

Another issue reported by veterans was reduced accommodation, the ability to focus when moving their gaze between far and near objects. Other complaints included double vision and floaters, which are tiny spots, specks and other objects that seem to move across the visual field.

For many of the veterans, it took five years or more to regain normal vision. That's much longer than the recovery time seen in patients with sports-related concussions or non-blast-related traumatic brain injury, according to the study, scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago.

"Physicians who care for veterans with [traumatic brain injury] need to know that many of them have vision problems," study leader Dr. M. Teresa Magone, a staff ophthalmologist with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said in an academy news release. "It is critical that these patients receive vision assessment and when appropriate, be referred to ophthalmologists to make sure they get the eye care they need, for as long as they need it."

A second study scheduled for presentation Sunday at the ophthalmology meeting found that veterans with PTSD or depre
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