Vision Rehabilitation for Acquired Brain Injury

Vision Problems After Head Injuries & Stroke

Double Vision is Common after Stroke or Head Injury

It is vital to the rehabilitation process that double vision as a result of head trauma is treated as soon as possible; the overall rehabilitation will otherwise be significantly delayed. 

Double vision can cause problems with:

  • Hand-writing
  • Anxiety with visual tasks
  • Reach and grab inaccuracies
  • Balance and movement difficulties like drifting when walking, stumbling or falling
  • Driving difficulties with lane positioning, proper speed maintenance, multitasking, navigation

A head injury can result in vision problems, and it doesn’t matter how young or old you are. Whether you have fallen off a bike, had a car accident or a stroke, vision problems can range from being very subtle to severe.

The more severe vision problems are obvious, the person complains of double vision, or words moving on the page.  The problem is the more subtle vision problems which can have a wide variety of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or nausea, motion sickness or even difficulty with balance or movement. 

A Team Approach

Typically we find that patients who have suffered a head injury often require a team approach to help with overall recovery and rehabilitation.  We collaborate with Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and Physiatrists to help our patients.

The First Step

The first step is a thorough evaluation of your vision to determine the best treatment for vision problems relating to stroke and acquired brain injuries including visual field loss.  Treatment can include prism lenses which can often provide immediate relief.  However, in some cases vision therapy is also needed.  Your doctor will explain everything once the evaluation is completed.

Symptoms of Post Trauma Vision Syndrome

After suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a stroke you may often experience difficulties with balance, spatial orientation, coordination, cognitive function, and speech. This is termed Post Trauma Vision Syndrome and it has a variety of symptoms including:


  • Distance vision blurred (Not clear with or without lenses)
  • Near vision blurred (Not clear with or without lenses)
  • Clarity of vision changes or fluctuates during the day
  • Poor night vision / can’t see well to drive at night

  • Eye discomfort / sore eyes / eyestrain
  • Headaches or dizziness after using eyes
  • Eye fatigue (Very tired after using eyes all day)
  • Feel “pulling” around the eyes

  • Double vision (Especially when tired)
  • Have to close or cover one eye to see clearly
  • Print moves in and out of focus when reading

  • Normal indoor lighting is uncomfortable (Too much glare)
  • Outdoor light too bright (Have to use sunglasses)
  • Indoors fluorescent lighting is bothersome or annoying

  • Eyes feel “dry” and sting
  • “Stare” into space without blinking
  • Have to rub the eyes a lot

  • Clumsiness / misjudge where objects really are
  • Lack of confidence walking / missing steps / stumbling
  • Poor handwriting (spacing, size, legibility)

  • Side vision distorted / objects move or change position
  • What looks straight ahead isn’t always straight ahead
  • Avoid crowds / can’t tolerate “visually-busy” places

  • Short attention span/easily distracted when reading
  • Difficulty / slowness with reading and writing
  • Poor reading comprehension/can’t remember what was read
  • Confusion of words / skip words during reading
  • Lose place/use finger not to lose place when reading

If you or a loved one has had a head injury, it would be wise to schedule an appointment to determine if some subtle vision problems may interfere with the recovery process.  The good news is that most vision problems relating to head injury can be helped.