Visual impairment is associated with traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and by some estimates, 295 in every 100,000 people experience TBI each year. Those who suffer from TBI often experience physical, behavioral, or psychological deficits, which can seriously diminish their quality of life. A particularly serious consequence of TBI is visual impairment or vision loss, which in many cases is irreversible and can limit an individual’s ability to function in social and occupational settings. However, little research exists on the progression of visual impairment in the years after injury.

To address this issue, a group of researchers in Taiwan conducted a large-scale longitudinal study of visual impairment in individuals with TBI. They used Taiwanese National Health Insurance data to compare incidences of vision loss in TBI patients versus healthy, non-injured patients. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that:

  • Over a ten-year period, the TBI group was more than three times as likely to develop vision loss than the non-injured group.
  • Male TBI patients were more likely to experience visual impairment than female TBI patients.
  • Low-income TBI patients were at higher risk of vision loss than other patients.

TBI is significantly associated with vision loss, which may be progressive in the months and years following injury. Because visual impairment can seriously reduce quality of life, individuals who have experienced TBI are advised to seek regular, thorough eye examinations during and after the initial recovery period. Vigilance and early detection may prevent potentially irreversible vision loss after brain injury.

Chen YJ, Lian CM, Tai MC, et al. Longitudinal relationship between traumatic brain injury and the risk of incident optic neuropathy: A 10-year follow-up nationally representative Taiwan survey. Oncotarget. (September 2017).

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